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There are several types of arthritis. All of them can cause uncomfortable stiffness and sometimes unbearable pain and can eventually lead to disability.
Osteoarthritis is a condition where a joint such as the fingers, hands, neck, back, hip or knee swells and/or causes pain. This can come about due to aging joints or if the joint has been diseased or injured. Other types of arthritis come about when the immune system attacks the body, or when an infection attacks a joint. These types of arthritis can lead to complications that may cause some symptoms to be dangerous.
Even with osteoarthritis, a joint can become very deformed. Sometimes the deformation leads to the joint not being able to work. This can badly hinder a person's ability to do daily tasks and might even render him or her disabled.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes the body's immune system to attack its own tissue including joints, causing painful swelling or redness in the joints like feet or hands. In more severe cases the inflammation and can eventually cause bone erosion and joint deformity. Most commonly found in the fingers, hands, back or wrist, RA typically makes the joints seem weak, stiff or tender, making them hard to use. Some symptoms may leave the sufferer feeling fatigued and feverish. They might also suffer from depression and anxiety.
The disease can come and go, with remissions in between painful flare-ups. But the more severe part of RA is that it can also affect the lungs, the eyes and the mouth. Sufferers can develop dry, painful eyes, a dry mouth or anemia and often a feeling resembling pins and needles. A rare complication of RA is pleurisy, where the linings of the lungs are inflamed. RA sufferers can also experience similar inflammation in their blood vessels and in the membrane that surrounds the heart making the pain worse with each deep breath. Doctors still don't know what causes RA.
Infectious or septic arthritis also has its dangers. In this type of arthritis, a bacteria, virus or fungus has spread from one part of the body and attacked a joint, more commonly caused by a bacterial infection from an open wound or an opening from a surgical procedure, such as a knee surgery. This often leads to the pain and stiffness common with other forms of arthritis as well as fever, warmth and swelling in the joint. Other symptoms of septic arthritis include loss of appetite, irritability, confusion and a rapid heartbeat. The joints that are most likely to be affected by infectious arthritis in adults are the legs, arms and knees. In children, typically infants, the hip is the most common target for the disease. A child will try to avoid moving his or her hip because of the pain. Though infectious arthritis is not an autoimmune disease like RA, a weakened immune system can put the person more at risk for developing it.