This inflammatory disease of the immune system targets first the synovium, or lining of the joint, resulting in pain, stiffness, swelling, joint damage, and loss of function of the joints. Inflammation most often affects joints of the hands and feet and tends to be symmetrical (occurring equally on both sides of the body). This symmetry helps distinguish rheumatoid arthritis from other forms of the disease. About 0.6 percent of the U.S. population (about 1.3 million people) has rheumatoid arthritis.
 
Systemic lupus erythematosus (also known as lupus or SLE) is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system harms the body’s own healthy cells and tissues. This can result in inflammation of and damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. By conservative estimates, lupus affects about 150,000 people in the U.S.
     
 
This type of arthritis results from deposits of needle-like crystals of uric acid in the joints. The crystals cause episodic inflammation, swelling, and pain in the affected joint, which is often the big toe. An estimated 8.3 million Americans have gout.
     
 
Known as degenerative arthritis, this disease is marked by the wearing down and eventual disintegration of the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones that meet at the joint. Affecting more than 20 million people in the United States alone, osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease and is usually associated with the aging process. Nearly all men over 45 and women over 55 are diagnosed with some degree of osteoarthritis. OA's favorite targets are the often-used joints of the feet, hands and hips, although it can manifest at any joint.
   
 
Ankylosing spondylitis is a long-term disease that involves inflammation of the joints between the spinal bones, and the joints between the spine and pelvis. These joints become swollen and inflamed. Over time, the affected spinal bones join together.
   
 
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