Arthritis is arthritis, right? Not exactly. There are many different kinds of arthritis. Two of the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Their primary symptoms are similar, mostly joint pain and stiffness. But they have different causes and sometimes may require different treatments.
Osteoarthritis, the more common condition, is known as a wear-and-tear disease. Over a lifetime of activity (or sometimes due to injury), the cartilage that cushions your joints begins to wear down. Without that cushion, you have pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system begins to attack healthy joint tissue in your body. In some cases, the attack goes beyond joints, inflicting damage on your eyes, lungs, and heart.
This can make rheumatoid arthritis a more serious condition than osteoarthritis. In addition to pain medicine, your doctor may prescribe medicine to suppress the immune response in order to stop or slow the damage.
A blood test can help your doctor identify which form of arthritis you have. The symptoms also vary slightly between the two forms of arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
- Joint pain and stiffness will be symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body
- More than one joint will always be affected.
- Morning stiffness may last more than 30 minutes.
- You may have other symptoms like fatigue and fever.
- Weight-bearing joints, such as hips, knees, feet, and spine, may hurt, although other joints can be affected as well.
- Joints on one side of your body may hurt more than the other side.
- You may develop joint pain at the site of an old injury.
- The morning stiffness usually lasts less than 30 minutes.
The medical professionals at Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists can help diagnose your joint pain and work with you to find the best possible treatment options.
Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists is located in Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona, with convenient on-site services including physical therapy and imaging. For more information, make an appointment by calling the Scottsdale office at 602-493-9361 or the Phoenix office at 602-863-2040
The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.