Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Differences Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid are two of the most common forms of arthritis, and it is important to differentiate between the two.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is more widespread, affecting thousands of individuals worldwide. This disease is primarily an inflammatory condition that affects the tissue that covers the joints throughout the human body. Over time, the inflammation can gradually spread to the major organs of the human body and has the potential to become a debilitating condition.

Historically, scientific research has attempted to identify the specific cause of rheumatoid arthritis, but a definite cause has yet to be discovered. Currently, the culprit is believed to be a genetic factor that predisposes an individual to the disease. Certain events are also believed to trigger its symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis can be treated with a number of medications, such as NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as DMARDs or disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, both of which can be prescribed by a qualified physician. Popular examples of such medicines are Methotrexate, Enbrel, Arava, Celebrax, and numerous others. Although these drugs have been known to produce positive results, it is also imperative to bear in mind that these products have been reported to trigger negative side effects that can impair rather than improve one's condition.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is more prevalent among older patients, as this condition results from the wear and tear of the joints brought about by age. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage's water component increases, whereas its protein component decreases. Constant stress or use of the joints, such as being overweight or contracting joint injury, can also trigger this disease. In addition, such factors as joint infections, pregnancy, hormonal disorders, diabetes, and others can lead to osteoarthritis. Treatment can range from localized injections of hyaluronan and glucocorticoid to surgical joint replacement procedures.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

The symptoms of Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis can help patients differentiate between these two types of arthritis.

For example, if both sides of the joint are affected, and if the joint appears to be inflamed as indicated by a distinctive swelling or reddening in color, the disease is most likely rheumatoid arthritis. In such cases, the patient typically experiences some fever, fatigue, and a sensation of stiffness throughout the body that lasts for 15 minute intervals or more. Different types of vasculitis, or a condition in which the veins and arteries are affected, can also develop as a consequence of rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, people with this disease have a higher risk of getting a heart attack or a stroke.

Also common among rheumatoid arthritic patients are renal amyloidosis and fibrosis of the lungs. Inflammation of the kidney and the lungs are direct or indirect targets of rheumatoid arthritis.

In contrast, osteoarthritis does not target the organs of the human body. In the majority of cases, osteoarthritis only occurs as a result of old age.

It is extremely crucial for arthritic patients to distinguish between these two types of arthritis. Knowing which type of arthritis one suffers from will lead a person to get the appropriate treatment for his/her condition. As always, consulting a physician is imperative for a more definite diagnosis and subsequent treatment. A qualified doctor can prescribe the necessary medication and therefore point you to the right direction. In case of side effects from the use of prescribed drugs, contacting your doctor immediately is a must.

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