It might sound unrealistic and mind-blowing, but here we go: did you know that there are more than 100 different variations of joint disorders? Moreover, about 25% of all adults in the United States have to live with a certain form of arthritis, a health condition that is characterized by joint inflammation and pain.
Among the most widely spread types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. So, how about putting them side by side in order to figure out how far are both health conditions similar or different?
An arthritis-related fact. Thanks to the advancement of aesthetic medicine, both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis might be efficiently handled with a wide range of special orthopedic medicaments.
Arthritis in a Nutshell: What Is It and What Does It Have to Do with Joint Pain?
We bet you have already heard the term “arthritis” from your grandmother, work colleague, or doctor. It is so widely spread all around the world that it touches every fourth adult to a certain extent. But do you know what is arthritis and what are its main peculiarities? Let’s find the answers to these questions together.
In simple terms, arthritis is a term that stands for inflammation and, as a result, chronic pain in the joints. The health condition might either appear suddenly or develop slowly. In most cases, arthritis affects adults after the age of 40. However, there exist also rare cases of a certain form of joint inflammation among children, teenagers, or younger grown-ups.
What Are the Main Arthritis Types?
There are over 100 different variations of arthritis. As we have already mentioned above, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most widely spread types of the disease (we are going to take a closer look at them below). However, here is the list of other far-reaching variations of the health condition:
- Psoriatic arthritis. As its name suggests, it is a health complication that occurs in people who have psoriasis (a chronic skin disease). It is characterized by pain and swelling in the affected joints;
- Gout. It is a health issue that has an extreme level of pain. The most common joint it usually affects is the one of a big toe. Due to the fact that it is chronic, a patient might experience episodes of flares followed by remissions and vice versa;
- Lupus. While being an autoimmune health problem, it might serve as a cause of inflammation in different parts of the human body, including the heart, brain, lungs, kidney, blood, skin, and joints.
What Are the Primary Arthritis Symptoms?
What unites the above-mentioned types of arthritis (as well as other variations of the health condition) are the common symptoms an arthritic might experience:
- Pain in the affected joint (the most typical, evident, and widely spread indicator of arthritis);
- Joint stiffness;
- A limited motion range.
Apart from arthritis symptoms you experience in your joints, the health condition might also influence your whole body and make you feel the following symptoms:
- Poor appetite;
- Muscle pain;
What Joints Might Be Affected by Arthritis?
These symptoms might appear in basically any joint in the human body. When being more precise, arthritis might affect:
In most cases, the health condition touches symmetrical joints. For instance, if arthritis has already affected your left knee, there is a high chance that it is going to affect your right knee as well.
What Are the Reasons that Cause Arthritis?
But what exactly causes arthritis? Well, it is all individual. Furthermore, different types of arthritis are caused by different factors. In general, however, you might start suffering from it as a result of these reasons:
- Mechanical “wear and tear” of the joint (remember, arthritis touches mainly older people);
- A joint injury;
- A joint tenderness;
- Excessive weight or obesity;
- Weakness in muscles;
- An autoimmune disorder;
As well, genetics plays an important role here: if your family history includes cases of arthritis, you might be predisposed to it as well.
What to Do to Get Rid of Arthritis?
When speaking about the arthritis treatment method, it is essential to mention that there exists a number of ways to handle the disease. Therefore, it is the task of your health care practitioner which method or combinations of methods will work best in your individual case. In general, here is the list of main arthritis treatments:
- Sticking to a “proper” lifestyle (namely, regular exercising and balanced diet);
- Keeping a healthy weight (a doctor might ask a patient with arthritis to lose weight in order to reduce pain);
- Visiting a special physical therapy;
- Using either hot or cold compresses;
- Taking orthopedic medications (as, for instance, injections);
- Undergoing surgery (in the most severe case of arthritis, a total joint replacement might be needed).
Thus, the treatment of arthritis is pretty diverse. Starting with lifestyle changes and ending with surgical interventions, the health condition is treated by a variety of methods.
Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Side-by-Side Comparison
After having a detailed overview of arthritis in general, it is high time to take a detailed look at the most widely spread forms of the health condition, namely:
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
So, let us take a detailed look at both above-mentioned arthritis types in order to compare and contrast them.
What Are the Peculiarities of Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Similar to other types of arthritis, it is characterized by joint pain. The main reason why osteoarthritis occurs is the “wear and tear” of the joint.
Therefore, older people are at a considerably higher risk of getting osteoarthritis if the younger ones. In most cases, the disease develops slowly and gradually over years. Basic osteoarthritis symptoms include:
- Pain in joints;
Oftentimes, the above-mentioned symptoms begin in joints on one body side and migrate to the other one over time. The health condition might affect both large and smaller joints, such as:
- Hip joint;
- Knee joint;
- Finger joint;
The pain in the affected joints is NOT usually followed by whole-body indications of feeling ill.
While being a chronic health condition, osteoarthritis does not go away over time. Still, there is a whole bunch of efficient treatments to relieve pain, substantially restore normal joint function, and slow down the progression of the disease, such as:
- Get rid of extra weight;
- Apply compresses to the treated joint;
- Do special exercises;
- Take or inject orthopedic medications;
Since osteoarthritis is characterized by mechanical damage of a joint, you might also try to eliminate such risk factors of the disease development as too strenuous exercising.
What Are the Peculiarities of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis, in its turn, occurs 10 times less frequently than osteoarthritis. It is also defined by pain in the joint. However, the primary reason for rheumatoid arthritis is not mechanical joint damage but an autoimmune disorder (a health condition when your immune system starts to attack your body instead of its intruders).
Due to the fact that people of any age might suffer from an autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis may appear at any life period. Moreover, it usually develops quite rapidly. The standard signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are:
- Pain in joints;
An arthritis-related fact. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis rarely leads to swelling in joints.
In most cases, rheumatoid arthritis affects symmetrical joints. For instance, you might feel pain in both:
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease that is usually followed by other whole-body signs of illness.
Similar to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is also a chronic disease that has no cure as of now. However, you might substantially halt the disease development, reduce pain, and improve the function of the affected joint by means of:
- Leading a healthy lifestyle;
- Using local compresses;
- Undergoing physical therapy;
- Taking special orthopedic medications;
Apart from the above-mentioned methods of rheumatoid arthritis management, you might also take special medications to strengthen your immune system if they are prescribed by your health care practitioner.
A Bottom Line: So, What’s the Difference?
All in all, both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis belong to widely spread medical problems that are characterized by joint pain. Their cause, however, is absolutely different: while osteoarthritis has an increased risk to appear at an older age as a result of natural “wear and tear” of joints, rheumatoid arthritis is oftentimes caused by an autoimmune disorder and might appear at any time. Both health conditions are chronic and require regular treatment. Thus, remember to take proper care of your health and enjoy a pain-free and active lifestyle at all times!