Everyone has heard of arthritis, but did you know that there are over 100 different types of arthritis?
The most common by far is osteoarthritis, but you’ve probably also heard of rheumatoid arthritis – so what is the difference between these two?
Both conditions result in pain, stiffness, swelling and inflammation of the joints, but how that problem arises is very different.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition – sometimes called degenerative joint disease. Quite simply, the joints have begun to “wear out” due to mechanical stresses over time. This can arise from overuse, obesity, genetics, injury or other factors – but the point is that the joint surfaces are not as perfect as they once were and begin to function poorly. You can visualize this as a simple metal hinge the represents your joint. If you imagine this hinge repeatedly moving back and forth over a long period of time with different loads and strains applied to it, eventually it will start to wear out and change shape. The friction will cause some deformation of the metal, creating grooves or flat spots which prevent the optimal function it once had.
Rheumatoid arthritis is completely different. In this case the body attacks its own tissues and destroys the cartilage that allows the joints to move smoothly. without the cartilage, the joints become drastically stiffened and inflamed, and often become seriously deformed, and misshapen. If we use the hinge analogy again, this is more like the rusting process of a metal hinge where the structure itself disintegrates and gets eaten away.
Clearly, your body is much more complex than a simple hinge, but hopefully this visual helps you to understand these two different types of arthritis. There is no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis, and management of this process is very difficult, but there is much that can be done with Osteoarthritis in helping to slow the degenerative process and relieving the pain and swelling. Contact us today to learn more!