Arthritis is a severe joint disorder that affects most middle-aged people. Two of its common types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The symptoms of both are more or less the same, including joint pain and discomfort, decreased mobility, and fatigue.
However, the cause of the disease is different for both kinds. Let’s have a look at both, their causes, prevalence, and treatment options. If anything, this guide will help you manage the disease in a better way. So, let’s break this down:
As mentioned earlier, rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis. It’s an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your immune system starts attacking your body by mistake, causing severe joint pain.
According to the International Journal of Epidemiology, the global prevalence of RA is 460 out of 100,000 adults, with the symptoms peaking between the ages 35 and 50 years. It is further said that RA is two to three-fold more frequent in women compared to men and as it has a strong association with sex hormones.
Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Sadly, RA has no proper cure. Since it is an autoimmune disorder, there’s no appropriate medical treatment that you can follow. Thus, the question is, how to manage pain and increase your range of motion? Thankfully, there are a few things that can help, including:
- Conventional DMARDs are often prescribed for the treatment of RA. These medications slow the progression of the disease, saving your joints and tissues from permanent damage.
- Biologic agents, a new class of DMARDs, are also prescribed these days. They’re usually paired with conventional DMARDs for better results.
- In the case of conventional DMARDs and biologic agents being ineffective, Targeted synthetic DMARDs are prescribed.
- As NSAIDs raise your chances of getting a stroke or heart attack, medicinal herbs like dried shrooms and turmeric are recommended for pain management.
- Physiotherapy is also beneficial to decrease joint pain and increase your body’s range of motion or flexibility.
- If everything else fails, your physician may recommend a synovectomy or joint fusion surgery.
- Total joint replacement is usually the last resort for people with permanent joint damage, which is a cause of disability.
Osteoarthritis is another common kind of arthritis; surprisingly, more common than rheumatoid arthritis. As mentioned by the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, around 32.5 million adults in the US are living with osteoarthritis.
It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions your joints and bones wears down with time or tears away due to an accident or medical treatment. Osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body; however, the common ones are usually your hips, knees, hands, and spine.
One major difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis is that osteoarthritis gradually makes your bones fragile. Yes, it makes you more prone to having bone fractures. It is, of course, not the same with RA. While RA does affect your joints, it doesn’t directly affect your bones.
Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis is treatable. There are many ways you can permanently get rid of osteoarthritis. Some of them are as follows:
- NSAIDs gels and creams are typically recommended for osteoarthritis as they’re safer than consuming NSAIDs orally.
- In case of severe joint pain, corticosteroids work well as they provide long-term relief, lasting from one to three months.
- Hyaluronic acid injections are another option. Hyaluronic acid is a shock absorber, which is naturally present in your joint fluid. These injections are preferred for knee osteoarthritis.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is also beneficial for osteoarthritis. It involves sending electrical pulses to your nerve endings by placing pads on your skin.
- Physiotherapy helps with osteoarthritis, too. It helps increase your flexibility, which is compromised otherwise.
- Aerobics is also recommended for osteoarthritis. Aerobic exercises not only make you more flexible but also help you reduce weight. Losing weight can help manage osteoarthritis.
I hope by now you know everything there is to know about RA and osteoarthritis. I’m sure it will help you out.