types of arthritis - a man rubbing his hand as it is in pain caused by a type of arthritis

What are the different types of arthritis?

24 May 2023

Arthritis affects around 10 million people in the UK1 and is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. Different types of arthritis can affect people of all ages ranging from children, to the elderly.

Types of arthritis

The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but there are over 100 different types that can affect different parts of the body such as hands, knees, fingers and hips.

How is arthritis diagnosed?

If you think you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following arthritis symptoms, you should talk to a medical professional and seek a diagnosis.

  • tenderness, joint pain and stiffness
  • inflammation on a joint
  • restricted movement of a joint
  • warm red skin on a joint
  • weakness of a joint or muscle
A diagnosis is achieved by accessing the amount of movement you are able to demonstrate in your joints, the amount of fluid around the joints. If you’re experiencing an arthritis flare up, they’ll be able to access any swelling or redness of the joint.


Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK that affects nearly 9 million people2 which affects the hands, knee or hip.

Osteoarthritis causes joints to become difficult to move, which then leads to stiffness and pain. You may also experience tenderness, swelling or crackling noises of the joints.

Movement is lost due to the breakdown of the cartilage, a firm and flexible connective tissue, that protects the joint from stress when you use them.

Once the cartilage surrounding the joint is damaged, this puts increased strain on other parts of your joints. The ligaments and tendons then work harder to assist movement which results in swelling and pain.

Symptoms can be varied depending on the affected joint. Some symptoms may go after a while, while others may be more long-term.

Am I at risk of Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis commonly affects adults that are in their mid-40s or over. It’s also more commonly found in women and those who have a family member who experiences the condition.

You may also experience the condition if you have a related joint condition such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis, or, if you injure a joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects nearly half a million people in the UK, causing joint pain and stiffness in parts of the body, commonly the hands, wrists and feet.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system wrongly attacks the cells that line your joints. This then makes joints swell, stiff and painful and long-term, can lead to damage to the cartilage, joint and bones.

As a long-term condition, it’s important to see your doctor if you’re experiencing ongoing joint pain and stiffness. Early treatment can reduce the risk of further damage and prevent the worsening of the condition.

Am I at risk of rheumatoid arthritis?

It's not clear what triggers the immune system to wrongly attack cells, although you're at an increased risk if you’re aged between 40 and 50, you’re female, smoke, and have a family member who experiences the condition.


Gout is a type of arthritis caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood. The build-up then forms uric crystals in a joint creating swelling, redness and pain.

Those that experience gout, may experience gout again within a few months or years.

Psoriatic arthritis

An inflammatory joint condition that affects people who live with psoriasis. It causes joints to become painful, stiff and swollen.

If diagnosed early, the effects of psoriatic arthritis can be slowed to minimise joint damage.

 Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.

Last updated: 10th February 2020

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