The term arthritis refers to inflammation in joints leading to increased pain. There are multiple types of arthritis with the most common being Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. While some symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness are present in both diseases, their cause, progression and treatment differ.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is commonly referred to a degenerative arthritis.
The cause is usually secondary to wear and tear of the protective cartilage over the joint. Diagnosis can be made after review of x-rays, but is largely based on physical exam. There is currently not a cure. However, treatment is aimed at decreasing inflammation through anti-inflammatories and procedure-based interventions with steroids.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder.
This means the body’s own immune system attacks the joints. Diagnosis is commonly made after review of blood work that tests for a specific antibody. Multiple joints can be affected and may have associated systemic symptoms such as a muscle aches and fatigue. In addition, some patients experience signs and symptoms outside of their joints (skin, heart lungs, etc.) Treatment is similar to OA. However, other medications termed Biologics, are used to suppress the immune response and alleviate pain. Just as with OA, there is no current cure for RA. There are groups of physicians called Rheumatologists that specialize in auto-immune disorders such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and typically manage treatment.