Arthritis: Osteoarthritis, or Rheumatoid Arthritis – What’s the Difference?

Arthritis is a common, painful condition that often affects those who suffer for their entire lives, and progressively gets worse. While it can be found in people of all ages, most patients who suffer from the condition are older adults. In short, inflammation causes pain and swelling at the joints, which can reduce function and cause suffering for those who deal with it. There are many types of arthritis, but two of the most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Causes of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, as it often plagues the elderly population. It can also be caused, or made worse, by obesity – which puts undue stress on the joints. Some sufferers may find it was passed down by mom or dad, while others find themselves suffering due to an injury or inflammatory disease. All of these things can lead to a breakdown of the joint cartilage, which protects your bones with each move you make. When it’s damaged, or absent, the area isn’t afforded the protection, and bone scrapes bone, causing pain.

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis isn’t as well understood as osteoarthritis. There are a few theories about what causes it, one of them being that it’s hereditary. It’s also thought that the illness is triggered by outside factors, such as a bacterial or viral infection.

Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis

Your doctor can diagnose your osteoarthritis when you provide them with a thorough list of symptoms. He or she may suggest a joint fluid analysis, or blood tests to rule out other illness, and prevent a misdiagnosis. Additionally, your doctor may want to take a look at any damage with x-rays or an MRI.

Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

An examine, combined with patient history, can often help your doctor determine whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or not. Blood tests can confirm inflammation, which would point toward the diagnosis.

Treatment of Osteoarthritis

It’s often recommended to take a multi-faceted approach to the treatment of osteoarthritis. A combination of massage and physical therapy can greatly reduce the stiffness and pain associated with osteoarthritis. Additionally, using strategic braces and canes can help by taking the weight off of specific joints. TENS Units, a form of electrotherapy, can be used. Additionally, for long-term relief, we recommend a variety of injections – steroid injections, hyaluronic acid procedures, PRP therapy, and stem cell injections. These all help with everything from pain relief, to adding function, to reducing the damage caused by the progressive condition.

Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, you’ll probably find relief in anti-inflammatory medications. Like osteoarthritis, we recommend a combination of therapies for the best results. Physical and massage therapy can offer great relief when used regularly. Stem cell injections, along with platelet rich plasma therapies, can help reduce your pain levels, too.

Your course of treatment is unique as your type of arthritis, so talk to your doctor about the best therapies to help you live the best quality of life possible.

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