Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis- What is the difference?

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Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are very different types of arthritic conditions. This video will answer for you what is rheumatoid arthritis and what is osteoarthritis.


Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can both be very significant, debilitating conditions that can cause significant pain and reduction in your physical ability. They’re different however. They’re different in what causes them. They’re different in how they’re expressed, the kind of symptoms that you have, and they’re different in how you treat them. It’s important to understand the difference because a correct diagnosis will get you on the path to a correct treatment program, which can then get you better in terms of your pain and get you back to doing the things that are important to you with the people that you care about. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis. What that means is that your immune system is being overly active and causing inflammation in the joints. How that works is your immune system, which is normally meant to defend your body against bacteria and viruses, in some cases can accidentally start to recognize your own body as foreign and then start causing inflammation by attacking those structures. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis your immune system recognizes your own joints and tendons and sometimes other organs as well. Basically attacks them, causes inflammation, which then causes pain, dysfunction, and destruction to the joints. Osteoarthritis on the other hand is a type of degenerative arthritis. What that means is that you have chronic instability in the joint which then leads to stress on the bone and the joint itself, which is what causes that degeneration to occur. You can get a mild component of inflammation in the joint but that’s not because the immune system is being overly active like you see in rheumatoid arthritis. Rather it’s because in osteoarthritis, you have chronic instability in the joint which leads to that chronic inflammation and stress on that structure. There are a number of other differences between these conditions as well. Such as Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition while osteoarthritis is a local condition. That means is in rheumatoid arthritis you can also find other types of symptoms that are generally affecting the rest of the body. For example that condition can also present with fevers, weight loss, severe fatigue as well. In addition you can also have other organ systems that can be involved as well. Since it’s a condition where the immune system is overly active that overactivity can also affect other areas such as inflammation in the eyes, inflammation in the skin, amongst other areas as well. That’s not something you would expect to see in osteoarthritis. Stiffness is another interesting symptom that you can see in a lot of people that have arthritis in general. But it’s different in terms of how it presents in rheumatoid arthritis versus osteoarthritis. In general the stiffness that you see in osteoarthritis will last less than one hour. On the other hand the stiffness that you see in rheumatoid arthritis can last for several hours if not the whole day. That’s different because the systemic nature of rheumatoid arthritis leads to that overall feeling of stiffness that can be very profound and last for a very long period of time. Another interesting difference between these conditions is the effect of activity on the level of pain. In osteoarthritis, because the condition is caused by instability and stress on the joint, activity will make that condition feel worse. It’ll make the pain feel worse. On the other hand in rheumatoid arthritis activity generally actually will make the pain and the symptoms feel better. The reverse when it comes to rest. Rest in the setting of rheumatoid arthritis very much significantly makes that feel worse. While on the other hand in osteoarthritis rest and activity minimization generally makes the joint pain feel better. Swelling in the joint is another similar factor that you can see in all arthritis patients, but can be a bit different in rheumatoid arthritis versus osteoarthritis. In osteoarthritis you don’t always see swelling in the joints, sometimes you do. On the other hand in rheumatoid arthritis swelling is a hallmark and defining factor with how this condition presents. In addition because it’s severe inflammation the joint itself will actually feel warm. It can also look red in an inflamed state. You don’t see that level of inflammation in osteoarthritis. It tends to be a milder level of inflammation and swelling while in rheumatoid arthritis it’s significantly more inflamed and aggressive in that regard. Another important aspect to understand is that it’s possible to have a primary rheumatoid arthritis and then secondarily you also develop osteoarthritis. In that sort of condition the active inflammation may be under control, but you may have developed some chronic damage and some chronic secondary osteoarthritis. An appropriately trained musculoskeletal health and wellness physician will be able to differentiate between the two and should be able to get you on the right path for both the inflammatory component and for the wear and tear osteoarthritis component as well. Now that you understand the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, you can get yourself on the right track to treat your musculoskeletal condition in the right way, the ideal way, to get the best result possible. If you’d like to learn more about those treatment options, check out my additional content. If you found this information useful and interesting consider subscribing to my channel, subscribe to my email list. I hope this was helpful. Have a good day and live well, bye bye.

 


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