There are more than 100 types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type and is caused by breakdown of joint cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory condition affecting the synovium. This form of arthritis can affect the tear and salivary glands and the lining of the heart and lungs. Furthermore, patients with RA may experience fatigue, anorexia, and overall muscle weakness.
Arthritis typically causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of flexibility, strength, and motion of joints. Both OA and RA commonly affect the joints of the hands; the shoulders, elbows, hips, jaw and neck also may be affected. Reduced dexterity may have an impact on oral hygiene and types of removable oral appliances.
In some instances, patients may have undergone total joint replacements.
Over time, arthritis patients will present with more signs and symptoms and progressive loss of function. These changes include morning stiffness; proximal interphalangeal (PIP), metacarpophalangeal (MCP), and metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint swelling and pain; symmetric arthritis (same joints on both left and right sides); and radiographic changes.
Treatment of arthritis consists of symptomatic relief, anti-inflammatory therapy, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
Medications such as NSAIDs, including COX-2 inhibitors, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers, interleukin-1 receptor antagonists (IL-1 Ra), and antidepressants are used depending on severity and disease progression.