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Basic Differences between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Last updated 2 years ago

Under the large umbrella of arthritic diseases, two have very similar symptoms that can make them difficult to diagnose: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. An orthopedic surgeon will be able to determine the subtle differences. Read the following overview of these two joint disorders to recognize how they differ:

Osteoarthritis

  • Causes
    Also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis is the result of the smooth articular cartilage in your joints gradually wearing away. This makes it difficult to bend your joints in a smooth and painless motion. Those who are affected are generally middle-aged or older. Obesity and a family history of osteoarthritis can increase your risk of this disorder.
     
  • Symptoms
    Any joint in your body can be affected by osteoarthritis. If you experience pain when you move a certain joint, it may be the result of bones with diminished cartilage that rub directly against each other. If left untreated, pain and inflammation will develop over time. Joints that lock, buckle, or make a grinding noise may also indicate osteoarthritis.
     
  • Treatment
    There are several treatment options available to slow the progression of osteoarthritis and help you regain strength. Conservative therapies, such as lifestyle modifications or a balanced fitness program, are beneficial to those who suffer from mild symptoms. Surgical options, such as arthroscopy or joint replacement, are also available.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Causes
    Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is not inherited, but rather may be triggered by an infection that causes your immune system to respond inappropriately. When this occurs, your immune system produces substances that lead to the erosion of articular cartilage in your joints. Deformity of your joints and pain will increase as the disease progresses.
     
  • Symptoms
    Swelling, pain, and stiffness are symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis that are similar to osteoarthritis. However, a deformity or contracture of the joint tends to be what sets these two diseases apart. If you notice multiple affected joints and experience symptoms of fever or decreased energy, you may have rheumatoid arthritis.
     
  • Treatment
    Similar to osteoarthritis, there is no known cure for this disease. However, there are several treatment options that will alleviate the pain and enable sufficient function of the affected joints. Certain medications and injections help control the progress of the disease. Overall, exercise plays a crucial role in restoring function.

If you are experiencing pain in your bones or joints, consult TOCA, The Orthopedic Clinic Association in Phoenix. Call (602) 639-4027 to schedule an appointment. 

 

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