The range of diseases that encompasses the finding of an arthritis also depends on other skelettal or extra-skelettal manifestations and includes rheumatoid arthritis, several forms of spondyloarthritis (Ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel diseases), connective tissue diseases, vasculitis, infections (septic arthritis, reactive arthritis), cristal diseases, as well as some metabolic arthropathies.
Signs and Symptoms
An inflammatory joint pain is the most important sign of arthritis: pain at rest, without attenuation with movement and associated with morning stiffness and loss of strength. The pain may be accompanied by swelling of the affected joints. Systemic manifestations include fatigue, inappetence, fever.
The treatment depends on the correct diagnosis. Specific treatments are available for infections and gout. For most forms of arthritis, however, the overreacted immune system has to be contained. Glucocorticosteroids provide a very good anti-inflammatory activity. As the long-term prescription of steroids may ultimately lead to important side effects, steroid-sparing drugs are used. These are called “disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs”, as they not only provide pain relief, but may also lower or even completely block progressive joint damage.