3 common types of arthritis

The 3 most common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.

There are over 100 types of arthritis seen in humans. Of these, the three most common types of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis
    • The most common type of arthritis affects about 32.5 million adults in the United States, which occurs due to degeneration or wear and tear of the joints.
    • Osteoarthritis is most commonly seen in joints of the knees, hips, hands, and spine. The joints have a protective tissue called cartilage that acts as padding for the bone surfaces forming the joint. This cartilage is destroyed due to osteoarthritis.
    • The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age. Women older than 50 years are more likely to get this disease. Conditions that put increased pressure on the joints, such as being overweight or obese, increase the risk of osteoarthritis. 
    • Certain medications, such as antacids, antiepilepsy medications, and thyroid hormones increase the risk as well.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • The second most common type of arthritis.
    • Rheumatoid occurs due to an autoimmune reaction in which the body’s immune system targets the membrane that lines the joints called the synovial membrane. This membrane serves as a protective layer that forms the synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant and shock absorber in the joints. As the joint damage progresses, the joint cartilage gets destroyed.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis can affect multiple joints at once. It most commonly affects the small joints of the hands, wrists, and knees. It can affect body tissues outside the joints (extra-articular manifestations), such as the eyes, lungs, and heart.
  • Gout
    • This type of arthritis occurs due to raised blood levels of a substance called uric acid (hyperuricemia). Uric acid is formed in the body due to the breakdown of naturally occurring substances called purines. Purines may be formed in the body, or they may be obtained by eating certain foods, such as organ meats, red meat, anchovies, tuna, and sardines.
    • Alcoholic beverages (especially beer) and foods rich in fructose (a type of sugar) may trigger gout attacks. Gout generally affects one joint at a time, most commonly those in the big toe.

What are the other types of arthritis?

Other types of arthritis include:

What is arthritis?

The term arthritis refers to the inflammation of the joints. The condition affects about one in three adults in the United States. People of any age and gender can get arthritis although it most commonly affects women and older individuals. About 60 million adults and 300,000 children have arthritis in the United States.

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among U.S. adults. Its symptoms may vary depending on the type of arthritis, but generally, they include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and a reduced range of motion.

How is arthritis treated?

The treatment of arthritis mainly depends on:

  • The type of arthritis
  • The severity of symptoms
  • Sites affected

Treatment may include any or a combination of the following:

  • Pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids
  • Steroids may be taken orally or injected into the joint space
  • Physical therapy helps improve the stiffness and may aid in healthy weight loss
  • Lifestyle modifications, such as a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, and regular exercise
  • Surgery, such as arthroplasty (joint replacement) or arthrodesis (joint fusion), may be done in severe cases


What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)? Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis See Slideshow

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Medically Reviewed on 2/8/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Arthritis National Research Foundation. Types of Arthritis. https://curearthritis.org/arthritis-types/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arthritis Types. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/types.html

Senthelal S, Li J, Goyal A, et al. Arthritis. [Updated 2021 Aug 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518992/