Arthritis is a collective medical condition that causes joint pain and disease. While there are more than 100 forms of arthritis-related conditions, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis make up for the two most well-known forms of the disease. Arthritis is often confused with rheumatism due to similar signs and symptoms that patients tend to display. While rheumatism encompasses medical conditions that affect the joints, tendons, muscle, ligaments, bones and muscles, arthritis refers to disorders that mainly consist of affected joints.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that affects millions of individuals worldwide, occurring when the protective cushion covering the ends of bones have worn out over time. While any joint within the body is in risk of damage, the most commonly affected areas tend to be the hands, hips, knees and spine. The symptoms of osteoarthritis often include pain in joints that may hurt during or after movement, stiffness most prominently felt upon waking up or due to physical inactivity. As we grow older, the risk of developing osteoarthritis increases, as well as being obese and having previous joint injuries that have seemingly healed can contribute to the risk factors of developing osteoarthritis.
On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that is capable of affecting more than just the joints within the body. An autoimmune disease (immune systems attacking the body by mistake instead of protecting it), rheumatoid arthritis differs from the wear-and-tear damage done by osteoarthritis, instead affecting the joints linings that eventually cause a painful swelling resulting in bone erosion and joint deformity. Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis tender, swollen joints, fatigue and loss of appetite as well as joint stiffness that occurs upon waking up or due to physical inactivity. Other affected areas include the eyes, lungs, among others. Cigarette smoking is a well-known risk factor of developing rheumatoid arthritis, as well as excess weight and family history of the condition.
In diagnosing and treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, the doctor may recommend imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI’s, with the latter helping to provide more information in complex cases. Due to osteoarthritis being irreversible, treatment is often initiated to help reduce overall pain and assist with general mobility. Should conservative treatments such as medicine and physiotherapy fail, procedures such as cortisone injections, bone realignment, tendon repair and total joint replacements may need to considered to help prevent further damage.
Should you be looking to speak to a doctor if you feel that you might be exhibiting signs of arthritis, do take the time to visit our Bone and Joint Replacement Centre, as maintaining a healthy set of bones and joints are essential in ensuring uninterrupted mobility, support and protection of the body.