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What's the Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Last updated 2 years ago

Arthritis is a generic term for any number of conditions affecting the joints of your body. Though often associated with the aches and pains of aging, certain types of arthritis can strike at any age. Read on to learn more about two common types of arthritis and how to determine when it’s time to seek orthopedic care.

Osteoarthritis is most commonly associated with aging. As the human body ages, the cartilage between the bones of the joints breaks down. Cartilage acts as the body’s natural cushioning in joints; as it disappears, the tendons and ligaments associated with the joint stretch painfully. Eventually, the bones of the joint itself can rub together, causing severe pain. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include morning stiffness, joint pain after prolonged activity, limited range of motion, and warm, swollen joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
can occur in patients of any age and is actually classified as an autoimmune disease; unfortunately, its causes are not well known. Rheumatoid arthritis manifests when the synovium, or lining of the joint, is attacked by the body’s own defenses and becomes inflamed. This disease primarily affects the joints, but other organs can be at risk as well. Symptoms include pain and swelling in the joints, redness or swelling of skin near the joint, fatigue, and pain in symmetrical joints (e.g., both knees or elbows instead of just one).

Treatment Options
The treatment for arthritis depends on the type of disease; your orthopedic physician will be able to recommend what’s best for your unique case. For patients with osteoarthritis, the focus is on relieving pain and restoring use of the joint with a combination of medicine and physical therapy. Alternatively, in cases of rheumatoid arthritis, doctors focus on administering medication to treat the underlying disease. In both cases, if the disease is significantly advanced, orthopedic surgery to repair or replace the joint is also an option.

The physicians of TOCA seek to bring you the best orthopedic care in Arizona. To find out more about what we can do for you, visit our website or call us today at (602) 639-4027.


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