Arthritis is a chronic disease that infects more than 50 million Americans. What many people don't realize is that there are several different types of arthritis. The two most common types of arthritis are completely different from each other, meaning they'll have different symptoms and even require different treatment. If you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you need to understand what is going on in your body and what it means for your future.
Arthritis is characterized as an inflammation in the joints. However, the different types of arthritis have different causes as well as additional symptoms throughout the body. It can eventually destroy your muscles, bones, connective tissues, joints, and/or cartilage. Arthritis is an epidemic in the United States. It causes 1–3 working adults to have limited mobility at their jobs.
The most common chronic joint condition is osteoarthritis. It is a condition that causes degeneration in your joints. Your joints are covered in cartilage. The cartilage allows your joints to move freely without pressure and stress on your bones. When you have osteoarthritis, your cartilage breaks down and your bones begin to rub together. When your bones begin to rub together, bone spurs eventually grow as a defense mechanism. As your osteoarthritis progresses, you may develop bone spurs which makes your pain much worse.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis vary depending on the severity of it and which joints are affected. The most common symptoms include joint pain and stiffness. The symptoms tend to be worse after rest. Commonly affected joints include:
- Lower back
Rheumatoid arthritis is completely different from osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis isn't in your joints the way osteoarthritis is. Although rheumatoid arthritis affects your joints, it is a disease in your immune system. This autoimmune disease makes your body attack healthy cells in your body. The most common healthy cell that your immune system attacks is the membrane that lines your joints.
You may be asking, "why me?" Unfortunately, doctors still don't have a definite cause for RA. While genetic and environmental factors may play a role in the cause, there is no concrete evidence.
Since RA is autoimmune, there are medications that can help slow down progression. Your doctor will monitor symptoms every few months to see how well your medication and dosage is working for you. RA can go into remission for months and even years before having a flair up.
Having arthritis is very difficult no matter which type you have. One big reason is because movement can be painful, but not moving is even worse. You know the phrase "move it or lose it"? That can be said about your joints. Staying sedentary may feel better at the time, but it will cause your arthritis to progress much more quickly. It's important to stay as mobile as possible and exercise.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are all very different. If you're showing symptoms of any of these conditions and you haven't officially been diagnosed you should see a doctor, such as Ascar Egtedar, MD, so you can start a treatment plan.