What is the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis? – symptoms to spot

Osteoarthritis: Elaine reveals her experience of the condition

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Arthritis, derived from the Greek word for “disease of the joints,” and is a condition synonymous with pain and chronic or acute inflammation of joints. This is often accompanied by structural damage. What is the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?

Arthritis occurs when the smooth cartilage joint surface wears out.

It usually begins in an isolated joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system malfunctions and attacks the body instead of intruders.

Arthritis is characterised by joint abnormalities, stiffness, and pain caused by inflammation.

Inflammation can be caused by several factors including:

Infections such as those seen in septic arthritis

Auto-inflammatory or auto-immune mechanisms are seen in rheumatoid arthritis

Crystal deposits such as gout

Degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis

Inflammation can sometimes be idiopathic, i.e., arise with no specific cause.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Pain, tenderness, or swelling in one or more joints
  • Fatigue
  • Warm, swollen, inflamed-looking joints
  • A fever
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness.

Symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
  • Inflammation in and around the joints
  • Restricted movement of the joints
  • Warm red skin over the affected joint
  • Weakness and muscle wasting.

Osteoarthritis tends to develop gradually over several years, as the joint cartilage wears away. Eventually the bones of your joints rub against each other, said doctor Michael Raab.

He continued: “In contrast, the pain and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis can develop and worsen over several weeks or a few months. In some cases, joint pain isn’t the first sign of rheumatoid arthritis.

“It may also begin with “flu-like” symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, weakness, and minor joint aches.

“Your doctor will examine you for joint tenderness and swelling, as well as muscle weakness, to help determine whether you have arthritis. “Your doctor may also order X-rays to check for joint damage or blood tests to see if other conditions may be causing your pain.

“Timely diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is important. Permanent joint damage can start within a year of having the disease.

“Your doctor will conduct a physical exam to check your joints for signs of swelling or tenderness and will also ask about your symptoms and health history and may order blood tests, X-rays, and other tests.”
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