Updated 18 January 2017

Which joints, which arthritis?

Different diseases characteristically affect different joints.


Taking note of which joints are spared in each form of arthritis is also helpful. 

Which of your joints are painful and inflamed?

Here is a list to help you learn more about the different joints involved in each of the different types of arthritis. Identifying the joints involved will help a doctor to make the correct diagnosis.

Take a look at our graphic showing the joints involved in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

Distribution of joint involvement in arthritis

DiseaseJoints commonly involvedJoints commonly spared
Gonococcal arthritisknee, wrist, ankle, hand IPaxial
Lyme arthritisknee, shoulder, wrist, elbowaxial
Rheumatoid arthritis
wrist, MCP, PIP, elbow, glenohumeral, cervical spine, hip, knee, ankle, tarsal, MTPDIP, thoracolumbar spine
first CMC, CIP, PIP, cervical spine, thora-columbar spine, hip, knee, first MTP, toe IPMCP, wrist, elbow, glenohumeral, ankle, tarsal
Reiter's syndromeknee, ankle, tarsal, MTP, toe IP, elbow, axial 
Psoriatic arthritisknee, ankle, MTP, toe IP, wrist, MCP, hand IP, axial 
Enteropathic arthritisknee, ankle, elbow, shoulder, MCP, PIP, wrist, axial 
Polyarticular goutfirst MTP, instep, heel, ankle, kneeaxial
CPPD diseaseknee, wrist, shoulder, ankle, MCP, hand IP, hip, elbowaxial
Sarcoid arthritisankle, kneeaxial
HaemochromatosisMCP, wrist, knee, hip, feet, shoulder 

Joints: IP, interphalangeal; MCP, metacarpophalangeal; PIP, proximal interphalangeal; CMC, carpometacarpal; DIP, distal interphalangeal; MTP, metatarsophalangeal.

- (Source: Arthritis Foundation of SA)

Read more:

Causes of knee pain

How exercise eases knee osteoarthritis


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Arthritis expert

Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

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