Arthritis; intense joint pains with swelling and stiffness that occurs in old age. Wrong!!! Sorry to inform you, but I do not have the same arthritis as your grandma! There is so much more and in fact, there are different types. We would go all the way to the beginning for this and talk about what arthritis really is. Arthritis can simply be defined as the above but because it has different types with different causes, it would be defined based on the type. We would discuss the two major types: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis.The differences between these two types can be summarized below:

• Cause

Osteoarthritis is what we typically view arthritis as. It is associated with wear and tear, where the flexible tissue at the joint, called the cartilage., wears down. This type is more common in the elderly and athletes who put a strain on their joints more and over time. It is also possible for it to occur due to trauma/accident.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is caused by an autoimmune disorder; basically, it can occur in just about anyone and at any age. An autoimmune disorder happens when the immune system attacks the otherwise healthy cells of an individual.
This disorder damages the synovial fluid which provides lubrication for the joints and makes this fluid inflamed and thickened. In addition, Rheumatoid arthritis’ manifestation is sudden and does not progress slowly as seen in osteoarthritis.

• Typical Symptoms

Even though they both give a lot of pain,  there are very different causes, they also have some dissimilar symptoms which we would need to pay attention to. In osteoarthritis, there is usually
• Tender joints
• Little to no swelling
For rheumatoid arthritis, we have
• Joint stiffness
• Joint redness
• Significant swelling

• Joints Affected

It may surprise you to note that even the joints affected are different. And this also boils down to their principal causes. In osteoarthritis, the larger weight-bearing joints are usually affected simply because they are more prone to wear and tear.
However, for rheumatoid arthritis, any joint can be affected. In fact, the joints on the fingers may show signs of rheumatoid arthritis too. This is because the autoimmune disorder that causes rheumatoid arthritis is very random and not entirely picky or selective.

• Symmetry

In osteoarthritis, the presentation is usually asymmetrical i.e. only one joint may be affected at a time and not necessarily a matching pair of joints on opposite sides of the body.
The joint affected is usually the joint that undergoes more strain or stress e.g. joints on the main hand of boxers or hockey players who throw. Nevertheless, rheumatoid arthritis presents as symmetrical as it is autoimmune and does not depend on other factors.

To Wrap It Up

So, we have been able to differentiate the regular osteoarthritis from the less commonly recognized rheumatoid arthritis. It is important to know their differences as ultimately; different drugs and different management approach would be taken for them.

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