We have all heard the term arthritis – in fact, most of us know someone who has it.  However, as the Arthritis Foundation (US) explains, "arthritis is very common but is not well understood. Actually, ‘arthritis’ is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease."  The Arthritis Foundation adds, “with autoimmune and inflammatory types of arthritis, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment is critical" (Reference 1).  We agree.  This is why we work hard at IFAA to focus on the Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory diseases that have arthritis as a major component.  We, however, focus not only on the arthritis, but on the autoimmune/autoinflammatory nature of the diseases as well.

Autoimmune Arthritis™ and Autoinflammatory Arthritis™refer to the type of arthritis associated with autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases that heavily involve the joints. While the arthritis component unites these diseases, because they are autoimmune and autoinflammatory they affect more than just the joints.  The inflammation can affect tissues and organs, and can cause systemic, or whole body, symptoms as well.




autoimmune vs. autoinflammatory - what's the difference?

The immune system is divided into two parts:  the “innate” and the “acquired” parts. As research into the immune system has advanced, some diseases once thought to be autoimmune (which stem from the acquired part) are now categorized as either autoinflammatory or as having autoinflammatory components (stemming from the innate part), and some even fall somewhere in between the two.

The “auto” is the commonality, which means "immune mediated" (Reference 2).  So both Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory diseases have an immune system malfunction as the underlying cause of the symptoms, but because they are triggered by different parts, the underlying cause or mechanism of the diseases are different. This difference can affect treatment options, long-term health risks, and possible complications from the systemic inflammation. (Reference 3)

However, there are still many similarities between autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases – both stem from the immune system, and both include similar onset and symptoms (including arthritis) caused by inflammation – so it’s easy to get confused.  We’re here to shed some light on the matter.


Learn more about Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory Arthritis here.

​Learn more about the benefits of having a nonprofit that focuses specifically on this disease group.



diseases

At IFAA, we focus on the Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory diseases that have arthritis as a major component.  While there are many diseases that stem from the immune system and can include arthritis as one component of the disease, some of our programs (such as the Early Symptoms of Autoimmune Arthritis Study) concentrate on those that are most similar in onset, share common symptoms, use the same treatments, and have similar potential for remission.  We believe continued focus on the most “like” diseases is an important step towards identifying them early in onset, so that earlier detection, referrals, diagnosis, and treatment can begin. These include: 


IFAA's primary AA focus
To learn more, visit these organizations*
AUTOIMMUNE ARTHRITIS (ACQUIRED/ADAPTIVE IMMUNE SYSTEM)

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Sjögren’s Syndrome

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease (UCTD)**

Genetic Alliance 
National Psoriasis Foundation,Spondylitis Association of America 
National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society 
Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation 
Lupus UKLupus and Allied Diseases Association

 

AUTOINFLAMMATORY ARTHRITIS (INNATE IMMUNE SYSTEM)
Adult Onset Still’s Disease (AOSD)
Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (sJIA)

International Still’s Disease Foundation
Arthritis Foundation 

COMBINATION AUTOIMMUNE + AUTOINFLAMMATORY

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
Axial Spondyloarthropathy (AxSpA)

Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy (USpA)

Spondylitis Association of America, National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society
Spondylitis Association of America, National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society

* IFAA works together with organizations around the world to offer the bests information and service to the patient community.  Learn more about our global network here, and see all the expert organizations we are pleased to collaborate with here.

**Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease: When these diseases are not fully developed, or overlap so that a precise diagnosis cannot be determined, they are often given an "Undifferentiated" diagnosis.  These conditions often evolve into one of the above diseases.


Learn more about the common symptoms of these diseases here.




Additional autoimmune/autoinflammatory diseases with arthritis involvement

Most of our programs benefit all diseases under the Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory Arthritis umbrella, such as World Autoimmune Arthritis Day, Ethics of Step Therapy Investigation, Media Awareness Hotline, Biosimilars education, our Patient-Centered ResearchGlobal Network Collaborative, and the #LearnArthritis awareness movement campaign.  These diseases may present slightly differently than those listed above because the primary involvement is another body part/symptom (muscles, gastrointestinal issues), or they may be the result of another disease (Enteropathic Arthritis). 

additional Autoimmune/autoinflammatory DISEASES with Arthritis involvement
TO LEARN MORE, VISIT THESE ORGANIZATIONS*
AUTOIMMUNE ARTHRITIS (ACQUIRED/ADAPTIVE IMMUNE SYSTEM)

Crohn’s Disease
Dermatomyositis
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Enteropathic Arthritis
Felty’s Syndrome
Jaccoud’s Anthropathy

Myositis/Polymyositis
Palindromic Rheumatism
Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Reactive Arthritis


Relapsing Polychondritis/Polychondritis
Scleroderma
Wegener’s Granulomatosis

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America
The Myositis Association
National Organization for Rare Diseases


Spondylitis Association of America
National Organization for Rare Diseases
The Myositis Association
International Palindromic Rheumatism Society
Arthritis Foundation, Vasculitis Foundation
National Institute for Arthritis and Muskuloskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Relapsing Polychondritis Awareness and Support Foundation 
Scleroderma Foundation
Vasculitis Foundation

AUTOINFLAMMATORY ARTHRITIS (INNATE IMMUNE SYSTEM)

Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF)


Neonatal Onset Multisystem Inflammatory Disease (NOMID)
Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor-Associated Periodic Syndrome (TRAPS)

Autoinflammatory Alliance, National Organization for Rare Diseases
Autoinflammatory Alliance 
Autoinflammatory Alliance


COMBINATION AUTOIMMUNE + AUTOINFLAMMATORY
Behcet’s Disease
Sarcoidosis
Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy (USpA)**
American Behcet’s Disease Association
Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research
Spondylitis Association of America

**Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy: When these diseases are not fully developed, or overlap so that a precise diagnosis cannot be determined, they are often given an "Undifferentiated" diagnosis.  These conditions often evolve into one of the above diseases.


Learn more about the common symptoms of these diseases here.




Associated Diseases:

Diseases or conditions that often occur in conjunction with Autoimmune/Autoinflammatory Arthritis diseases:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Dysautonomia
  • Raynaud's Phenomenon
  • Uveitis/Iritis
  • Vasculitis

what kind of arthritis?

References:

1. Arthritis Foundation (United States). "What is Arthritis?"-Inflammatory Arthritis. ​http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/what-is-arthritis.php, 2016. 

2. Adamopoulos, I.E. "Autoimmune or Autoiflammatory? Bad to the Bone", International Journal of Clinical Rheumatology. Int J Clin Rheumatol. 2015;10(1):5-7.

3. Autoinflammatory Alliance. "Autoinflammatory vs. Autoimmune: What is the Difference?"   http://saidsupport.org/autoinflammatory-vs-autoimmune-what-is-the-difference, 2014.

4. Arthritis Foundation. "What is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?" http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/juvenile-idiopathic-arthritis-jia/what-is-juvenile-idiopathic-arthritis.php, 2016.


Note:  Autoimmune/Autoinflammatory Arthritis is not a classification; it is a description to differentiate a cluster of diseases that are autoimmune and have arthritis involvement.  There are other types of arthritis, other than autoimmune/autoinflammatory or degenerative, such as gout.  There are also other types of autoimmune diseases that do not include arthritis.