Everyone knows that arthritis is a joint disease or disorder, but it is a lot more complicated than that. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 types of arthritis. This means, two individuals can have similar joint pain symptoms but have completely different underlying arthritic conditions. Two of the most common arthritic conditions are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions have similar symptoms but are caused by completely different factors. Here is a look at the difference between the two.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints all over the body. The body produces antibodies that harm the tissues in the joints. These antibodies are meant to attack foreign bacteria and viruses to keep the body safe. However, they mistakenly begin to attack the joints which causes pain and inflammation.
While the exact cause for rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, it can be caused by genetic, hormonal and lifestyle issues. Additionally, an unhealthy lifestyle – lack of exercise, poor diet, no sleep – is more likely to cause rheumatoid arthritis than a healthy one. An unhealthy lifestyle can also make hormonal and genetic issues worse.
Most Common Symptoms
- Pain, stiffness, swelling, and inflammation in multiple joints throughout the body at the same time, especially in the morning.
- Pain is usually quick to come and can affect any number of joints at the same time. For example, you may experience pain in both knees and then develop pain in the shoulders a couple of weeks later.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that most commonly affects joints throughout the body. There is a soft material called cartilage that exists between each joint in your body. Cartilage helps the bones meeting at the joints glide painlessly and efficiently against each other. Individuals with osteoarthritis have insufficient or broken cartilage between their joints. The lack of cartilage causes pain, swelling, joint issues.
Although the exact cause of osteoarthritis is difficult to determine, there are many factors that contribute to a person developing the condition. Overworking joints is one example. If you play a sport that requires strenuous activity, you may develop osteoarthritis in the knees. Being overweight is another factor that can contribute to developing osteoarthritis. The more pressure you put on your joints, the more likely you are to develop osteoarthritis. Finally, genetics is another factor. If osteoarthritis runs in your family, you are more likely to develop it at some point in your life.
Most Common Symptoms
- Joint pain that is most common in hands, knees, spine, and hips.
- Pain is likely to be in less joints at a time. For example, pain may start in one knee and several months later develop on one shoulder. It can take a long time for symptoms to develop in multiple parts of the body.
- Pain and stiffness in the morning that typically goes away after a while of moving around.
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