How to know if we have osteoarthritis or arthritis?

Both osteoarthritis and arthritis have in common that they affect the joints. The human body has more than 300 joints that can potentially be affected by these diseases, which cause pain, loss of mobility and therefore reduce the quality of life.

Although the causes are different, they have in common that being overweight and sedentary increases the risk of these diseases and worsens symptoms and progression.

Differences between arthritis and osteoarthritis

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, in this case of the synovium, which can be caused by infection, trauma or autoimmune disease, while osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease caused by joint aging or trauma.

In addition to a physical examination, rheumatologists use various methods to diagnose these diseases: X-rays and scan or CT for hard tissues (bones) and MRI for soft tissues (tendons, muscles, nerves). In the case of rheumatism, an analysis can detect the presence of biomarkers that indicate the presence of an autoimmune disease.

osteoarthritis or arthritis

We will know if we have osteoarthritis because it mainly affects the distal joints (the most distant from the body). In contrast, arthritis affects the proximal or metacarpophalangeal joints more, causing thickening, swelling, and bloating, which is not the case with osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis attacks the articular cartilage, while rheumatoid arthritis attacks the synovium. Osteoarthritis causes pain and stiffness and gets worse with movement, while arthritis causes inflammation and stiffness and gets worse with rest.

In arthritis, the joint has a more spectacular inflammation and the wear is more homogeneous: it does not depend on the carried out physical activity.

Types of Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis or related diseases, but we can point out the most common ones.

Rheumatoid arthritis: It is a chronic inflammatory disease, autoimmune in nature, characterized by symmetrical involvement of multiple joints and the presentation of various general nonspecific symptoms and extra-articular manifestations.

It affects some joints more intensely than others, especially the more mobile ones such as the hands and feet, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.

Lupus: Lupus is an inflammatory disease that can be chronic. It affects the joints, skin, kidneys, blood, and other parts of the body.

The immune system is the body’s natural defense against infections, such as those caused by bacteria and viruses. The immune system of a lupus patient produces antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues.

Gout. It is a type of arthritis characterized by inflammation of the big toe. The formation of urate crystals in the tissues and joints causes an inflammatory response that usually affects the parts farthest from the trunk or body, since these are the coldest areas. That is why the toe is the most affected limb.

The types of osteoarthritis are defined by the area or joint affected by the disease.

Osteoarthritis in the hands. Characterized by inflammation of the joint cartilage in the hand.

Cervical osteoarthritis. It appears when the cartilage that corresponds to the joints of the spine is degenerated or injured. The most frequent initial symptom is neck pain, since in many cases it does not produce symptoms.

Lumbar osteoarthritis. Between the ribs and the pelvis, we find the lumbar spine, made up of five vertebrae located in the back. The deterioration of the joints in this area triggers osteoarthritis.

Knee osteoarthritis. Knee cartilage can wear down in older people or people who have had a knee injury in their youth. In overweight people is more common to be a load bearing joint.

Similarities between Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

In both osteoarthritis and arthritis, it is important to carry out regular physical exercise, always under professional advice.

Physical activity such as yoga helps to delay joint aging, improves pain, strengthens muscles and bone density, mobility and therefore quality of life, reducing depression and anxiety, which is associated with more than 50% of osteoarthritis and arthritis patients.

How to treat Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

The part that may most interest readers is knowing about treatment to combat and slow the progression of osteoarthritis and arthritis. In the case of osteoarthritis, slowing down its progression is relative, since being a degenerative disease, the symptoms can be alleviated so that the patient’s quality of life is better, but never stop the illness.

Osteoarthritis will progress over the years and it is possible that the joint will be more and more affected, but if we can detect osteoarthritis in time, we can improve the way we live with the disease, so that it prevents us as little as possible.

To arthritis treatment they can be used different medications, such as corticosteroids, anti- inflammatory or pain suppressors. In this case, what is intended is to focus on the disease that has brought the arthritis so that once cured, the arthritis also disappears.

Physical exercise can be very beneficial for patients with arthritis – and osteoarthritis, in fact – but always under the guidelines of a professional, since exercising excessively and with incorrect exercises could further deteriorate the state of the joint.

Some of the advantages of physical activity in patients suffering from these diseases are to delay the aging of cartilage and pain of the affected joints, increase muscle strength and bone density, thus improving the resistance of the joint, reduce the depression that usually accompanies this type of disease when they are impeded and improve the mood of patients.

These guidelines, of course, are not applicable to all cases and as there are as many types of arthritis as there are patients who suffer from it, it is necessary to go to a specialist to make the appropriate diagnosis for each person .