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Osteoarthritis (what’s the difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis)

Osteoarthritis is more common and differs from rheumatoid arthritis in several ways, although joint pain and inflammation of the joints may appear as similar symptoms.

Osteoarthritis of the spine

Osteoarthritis is caused when the joint cartilage breaks down causing the bones within the joint to touch when moved as there is no longer any cushioning between them.

Whereas rheumatoid arthritis is regarded as an autoimmune disease, where the immune cells attack the body’s own tissues, and affects many joints, osteoarthritis symptoms and pain usually start in a single joint.

Osteoarthritis is generally the result of ageing as the proteins in the cartilage degenerate and water content increases, although repetitive use or stress on the joint, joint injury, being overweight and family history can also be factors.

How to spot common symptom associated with osteoarthritis

Pain in the affected joint after repetitive use or activity.
Morning stiffness that lasts a half hour or less.
Joint pain, often worse later in the day.
Affected joints can also swell, feel warm, and become stiff after prolonged inactivity.
Bone spurs or enlargements such as Heberden and Bouchard nodes.
Limited range of motion.

How to treat Osteoarthritis

Blood tests cannot diagnose osteoarthritis for certain, but can be used to rule out rheumatoid arthritis.  Arthrocentesis (joint fluid removal) and tests on the joint fluid are further procedures that can assess osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The results will determine which type of arthritis is involved together with a physical examination and the patient’s medical history.

The treatment of osteoarthritis pain aims to relieve the joint pain together with a programme of physical therapies to improve the movement and function of the affected joint.

Nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs, analgesics and steroid injections may be prescribed to treat the inflammation and pain.

Exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscle and stabilize the joint.

Heat, rest and a weight loss programme will also help to reduce pain.