WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OSTEOARTHRITIS AND RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS?


Arthritis Sunshine Coast

Did you know that there are over 100 different conditions that can be labelled under the umbrella term 'arthritis'? These are usually placed into two different categories – inflammatory and non-inflammatory.


OSTEOARTHRITIS

The most common type of arthritis you have probably heard of is osteoarthritis, which accounts for 80% of all diagnoses of arthritis. This type of arthritis is currently classified as a non-inflammatory arthritis and is usually localised to a few specific joints in the body, most commonly:

  • hands

  • lower back

  • neck

  • hips

  • knees

Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects all the structures within the joint, including:

  • thickening of the tendons and ligaments

  • development of bony spurs (osteophytes)

  • inflammation/irritation of the joint lining, which produces extra synovial fluid

  • the breakdown of the cartilage within the joints, whose primary role is to protect the bones from rubbing on each other - this is what osteoarthritis is most well known for.

For years osteoarthritis has been believed to be a degenerative disease that is caused by ‘wear and tear’ of the cartilage. However, we now know this is incorrect and in fact, joints love load – or at least the right type of load. Cartilage does not have a blood supply of its own to deliver it nutrients, so instead it receives its nutrition through load and compression via movement - more simply EXERCISE!


The latest research into the factors of developing arthritis is pointing towards the following:

  • Biomechanics – inefficient loading patterns

  • Biochemistry – systemic inflammation from hormones and substances secreted from fat cells

  • Genetics – specific to the individual

  • Previous joint trauma


RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common arthritis, accounting for 13% of arthritic diagnoses. Unlike osteoarthritis it is classified as an inflammatory or auto-immune type of arthritis. Where osteoarthritis is a localised condition, rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition. This means it doesn’t just present in one or two consistent joints in the body, but can move around to different joints. Rheumatoid arthritis also results in flare ups in relation to activity and disease progression.


Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining in the joints, which causes inflammation in the synovial membrane or joint synovium. This can cause:

  • swelling

  • localised and systemic inflammation

  • joint damage

  • bone erosion

  • pain

Some risk factors for increasing your risk of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Genetic susceptibility – while it is not a hereditary disease, a family history of autoimmune diseases can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Gender – females are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than males.

  • Hormones & hormone imbalance – especially true for females in relation to pregnancy and menstrual cycle.

  • Exposure to previous infections – this is still being researched

  • Excess weight – the presence of fat cells

  • Exposure to environmental factors -for example smoking or nicotine exposure.


EXERCISE FOR ARTHRITIS

While exercise won’t cure your arthritic condition, it can definitely aid in managing your symptoms for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Refer to our previous article, Exercise for Arthritis, for more information about this.


Exercise for Arthritis


If you are unsure of where to start why not contact our exercise physiologists to implement a specific and individualised plan for you and your symptoms. Contact us on 07 5456 1599 and make an appointment and start living your best life!

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