Types of arthritis


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease. It affects the whole joint including bone, cartilage, ligaments and muscles. Although often described as ‘wear and tear’, this is not an accurate description of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is now thought to be the result of a joint working extra hard to repair itself.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis, a common inflammatory form of arthritis, is an autoimmune disease that causes pain and swelling of the joints. In an autoimmune disease, your immune system starts attacking your own healthy tissues. In RA, the immune system targets the lining of the joints, causing inflammation and joint damage.

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a condition that mainly affects the spine. The joints of the neck, back and pelvis become inflamed, causing pain and stiffness. Other joints, such as the hips and shoulders, and other areas of the body such as the eyes, skin, bowel and lungs, can also be involved. Symptoms of AS usually begin between the ages of 15 and 45 years.


Gout is a common and painful condition that affects the joints. Small crystals form in and around the joint, causing inflammation, pain and swelling. An attack of gout usually comes on very quickly, often overnight. The joint becomes very red, swollen and extremely painful. Gout normally affects one joint at a time, often the joint of the big toe.

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints. This causes the joints to become painful, stiff and often swollen. Usually only people who have a skin disease called psoriasis are affected by psoriatic arthritis

Non-radiographic Axial Spondyloarthritis

Non-radiographic Axial Spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA) is an autoimmune disease which causes arthritis in the spine and pelvis. While the body’s immune system is designed to fight infections to keep you healthy, in people with nr-axSpA, the immune system creates inflammation in the joints of the spine and pelvis. This causes pain and stiffness and may lead to joint damage. In its early stages, nr-axSpA can be mistaken for general back pain.


Fibromyalgia is a name given to a common group of symptoms marked by generalised pain and muscle stiffness, as well as extreme fatigue. These may range from very mild to severe, and may last for many years or come and go at different times. With the right advice most people find they learn to manage the pain and tiredness over time.

Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH)

DISH is a form of ARTHRITIS that involves the tendons and ligaments around the spine. Also known as Forestiers Disease, this condition occurs when the tendons and ligaments become hardened, a process known as calcification. Once the tendons and ligaments harden, parts of this tissue can turn in to bone.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (children)

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is the name given to a number of types of arthritis that occur in children. We do know that JIA is an autoimmune condition. This means the body’s immune system (its protective mechanism against infection) starts to mistakenly attack healthy cells of the body.

Anterior knee pain (children)

Anterior knee pain is pain which occurs in the front of the knee around the knee cap. Anterior knee pain is more common during the teenage years and affects girls more than boys.

Chilblains / Perniosis (children)

Chilblains are an injury to the skin of the hands and feet (although they can occur elsewhere like nose, ears, buttocks) caused by cold temperatures. The other name for chilblains is perniosis.

Chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis (children)

Chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis (CRMO) is a disease affecting the bones. Inflammation is normally one of the body’s protective responses to infection or injury, but in diseases such as CRMO, uncontrolled inflammation can cause damage. In CRMO, inflammation targets the bone and can occur throughout the body.

Familial Mediterranean fever (children)

Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) is a disease that results in episodes of fever, abdominal pain, chest pain, joint pain and rashes. It is most common in people of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ancestry, but can occur in people of any ethnicity.

Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant Cell Arteritis is an autoimmune disease, where the body attacks its own blood vessels. It is also known as temporal arteritis as it can case pain, inflammation and tenderness around the temples. Around 1,000 Australians are diagnosed with GCA each year.

Growing pains / Benign nocturnal limb pains (children)

Growing pains are common and affect otherwise healthy children. The pains usually start in the preschool years. Growing pains are often difficult to pinpoint, but are usually in the legs.

Haemochromatosis and haemochromatotic arthritis

Haemochromatosis is a condition caused by a build-up of iron in your body. People with haemochromatosis absorb too much iron from food (iron overload) and the extra iron can damage organs, particularly the liver, heart, pancreas, bones and joints.

Hypermobility syndromes (children)

We are at our most flexible as babies and become less flexible with age. Many children are hypermobile (“double jointed”) in one or more joints. When this affects many joints, and is associated with pain, it is called a hypermobility syndrome.

Joint Hypermobility (adult)

Joint hypermobility (“double jointed”) is the term used when someone’s joints bend further than most people’s joints. It may exist by itself or be part of a more complex diagnosis such as “Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder” or “Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome”.

Juvenile dermatomyositis (children)

Juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) is a rare condition that causes inflammation of the skin and muscle. Inflammation is one of the body’s protective responses to infection or injury, but in diseases such as JDM, uncontrolled inflammation can cause damage. Other parts of the body may also be affected such as the lung and intestines.

Localised scleroderma (children)

Localised scleroderma is an inflammatory disease affecting the skin. Inflammation is normally one of the body’s protective responses to infection or injury. In diseases such as localised scleroderma, uncontrolled inflammation leads to hardening and discolouration of the involved skin.

Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus)

Systemic lupus erythematosus (also called SLE or lupus) is an autoimmune condition. The normal role of your body’s immune system is to fight off infections and diseases to keep you healthy. In an autoimmune disease like lupus, your immune system starts attacking your own healthy tissues.

Polymyalgia rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica means ‘pain in many muscles’. It is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints and tissues around the joints. This causes muscles to feel painful and stiff, especially in the shoulder, neck and hip areas. Polymyalgia rheumatica is different to fibromyalgia, a condition that does not cause inflammation.

Reactive arthritis

Reactive arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation, pain and swelling of the joints. It usually develops after an infection, often in the bowel or genital areas. The infection causes activity in the immune system.

Ross River virus

Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus are infections that are spread to humans through mosquito bites.
They cause similar illnesses, including joint inflammation and pain. People of all ages are at risk of developing these infections. Ross River virus is the most common and widespread of mosquito borne diseases that infect humans in Australia.


The word ‘scleroderma’ means ‘hard skin’. Scleroderma affects the connective tissues of the body (tissues that hold together joints, muscles, blood vessels and internal organs). Symptoms vary greatly from person to person and also depend on what part of the body is involved.

Sever’s disease (children)

Sever’s disease causes pain in the bone at the back of the heel. This pain occurs because of a mismatch between the growth of the calf bones and muscles. It is slightly more common in boys than girls and usually affects children aged 8 – 12 years.

Sjögren’s syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition. The normal role of your body’s immune system is to fight off infections and diseases to keep you healthy. In an autoimmune disease like Sjögren’s syndrome, your immune system starts attacking your own healthy tissues.


Spondyloarthritis (sometimes called spondyloarthropathy or seronegative arthritis) is a name for types of arthritis that commonly affect the spine.