Do you wake up in the mornings with stiffness in your hands or your feet? Are your knee joints warm and swollen? Do they get worse when it rains?
Do you look at your older relatives and see that they have the same problems, or that their pain has gotten worse as they got older?
You probably identified this as arthritis. The question is, do you know whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis?
It might not seem like an important distinction but it is. Understanding the differences can help you have a better conversation with your health care provider and get the right treatment more quickly.
Since these are two different types of diseases, the diagnosis criteria and treatment options are different. Let’s understand them better.
Osteoarthritis arthritis defined
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. This occurs when there is deterioration of the cartilage that lines the tops of your bones in the joint area. It tends to occur in the hands, neck, back, knees and hips.
Typical symptoms may be pain or tenderness in the affected joint. In the morning you might experience stiffness when you first get up for about 20 minutes, then as you move around the pain will subside.
You might lose full range of motion in the joint over time. Extra small bits of bone creating hard lumps in the area of the joint are called bone spurs.
There doesn't seem to be symmetry, or pain in the same joint on both sides of the body, because this type of arthritis is due to wear and tear on the particular joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis defined
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. In autoimmune diseases the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue cause damage, pain and swelling.
The damage usually starts in the lining of the smaller joints like the fingers and the toes, and can progress to larger joints like the ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders and hips. Over time if the inflammation is not controlled, it will cause deformity and alteration of function in that joint.