When older Americans experience pain writing with a pen or doing keyboard work, performing simple repetitive physical motions like walking stairs or sitting and standing, they worry that arthritis is the culprit. The fact is, they are not alone in their worries. Currently, an estimated 52.5 million Americans reported that their doctor told them they had arthritis.
All arthritis, though, is not the same and recognizing the differences are important as a treatment plan is formulated. There are different treatment options and different disease processes between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Knowing the type of arthritis you have will affect many medical and lifestyle decisions.
- The disease occurs because your immune system attacks the tissues in your joints, causing pain and stiffness.
- Rheumatoid arthritis pain gets markedly worse over a course of months, or even weeks, and has a much more sudden progression than osteoarthritis.
- Other initial symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can be flu-like symptoms, including fever, tiredness and weakness.
- Rheumatoid arthritis typically attacks the hands, wrists and feet, but unlike osteoarthritis does not usually affect the joint closest to the fingertip.
- Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers are less able to decrease stiffness and pain with movement and find that it can take up to an hour for morning aches and pains to abate.
- The disease process occurs because cartilage (the tissue in your joints that cushions your bones) erodes. As a result, two bones begin to rub one another.
- Pain from osteoarthritis develops gradually and worsens over time.
- Osteoarthritis in the hand is very common, typically affecting the joint closest to the fingertip.
- Joint pain and stiffness is usually the worst in the morning, but often improves after a short burst of movement and activity.