There are well over 100 forms of arthritis and related diseases. The most common of these being osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Arthritis can present itself in a number of different ways. Some may only experience arthritis joint pain in their knees when the weather outside gets damp. Others may feel pain with every movement. What dictates the symptoms and their effects, is the type of arthritis the person has.
While the term arthritis is used as a catchall for a disease in which you experience painful joints, osteoarthritis and RA differ in their characteristics. Osteoarthritis affects strictly your bones and joints, while RA attacks your whole body, and can even attack your organs.
Arthritis pain can be debilitating and life-altering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults with arthritis report that it limits their leisure activities and work. 25 percent of them say it causes severe pain (seven or higher on a zero to 10 point scale).
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting 250 million people worldwide. Osteoarthritis, or wear and tear arthritis, is a breakdown of the cartilage that lies between bones leading to painful bone on bone friction. Symptoms include joint pain, aching, stiffness, muscle weakness, limping and loss of motion.
Osteoarthritis most commonly occurs later in life, usually after the age of 50. It can also occur at a younger age and affect athletes as well. The disease is also more common in women. While osteoarthritis is caused by the normal process of aging, it can also be caused by injury and repetitive use. It also often runs in families.
There are a number of different treatments available to help the pain of osteoarthritis, although there is no cure. While pain remedies will help with the symptoms, they won’t stop the progression of the disease. Depending on the severity of the disease, it can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications such as NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen), certain narcotics, as well as with localized steroid injections into the affected joint.
Lifestyle changes can also help greatly in the management of early-stage arthritis pain. Losing weight, eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, certain nutritional supplements, and getting daily exercise can all help with the symptoms. Physical therapy is also often prescribed to help early on with symptom management.
Rheumatoid Arthritis, commonly referred to as RA, is a chronic inflammatory disease. It is different from osteoarthritis because it is an autoimmune disease. In RA, your immune system attacks your joints, causing you pain, redness, inflammation, stiffness, and loss of function throughout the body. The symptoms of RA often occur in the same joint on both sides of your body. Other symptoms include fatigue, feeling sick like you have the flu, loss of appetite, stiffness after sitting, and morning stiffness that lasts more than an hour. Over time, if left untreated, RA can cause irreparable joint damage and can also cause organ damage.
RA typically strikes people between the ages of 40-60 and it is more common among women than men. It often affects the small bones of the hands and feet.
Rheumatoid arthritis also increases the risk of developing other health-related problems including, osteoporosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, heart problems such as clogged arteries, heart attack and heart failure; and inflammation and scarring of the lung tissues, which can cause shortness of breath. Gone unchecked, RA can also lead to organ damage.
There are a number of medications available to treat rheumatoid arthritis. These medications work differently in each person, and so working with your doctor to find what works best for you is crucial.
Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can go into remission. Remission occurs when your disease activity score falls below a certain point. Your doctor will determine if you have reached that point. Typically, those in remission become largely symptom-free and can resume activities they could not do when the disease was active. Once in remission, your doctor will taper your doses of medication, although you will still remain on your medication during remission.
Arthritis Treatment in the Chicago North-West Suburbs
If you suffer from arthritis pain, Dr. Michele Yoon can help. Our team approach means that you’ll benefit from a number of specialists, all working together, to help you get better faster, and back to your active lifestyle as soon as possible. Schedule an appointment using our online form today!