Arthritis refers to more than 100 different conditions that are all slightly different but share two qualities: they’re all inflammatory, and they affect joints. The diverse types also share a common symptom: pain.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, followed by rheumatoid arthritis:
Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis, develops over time from daily wear-and-tear that slowly breaks down cartilage. Cartilage serves to cushion and protect the ends of bones. As it disappears, bones inside the joint rub against each other every time you move, causing pain, bone spurs, loss of motion, and inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis begins with inflammation and swelling in the tissues around the joint. It’s an autoimmune disorder that goes through cycles, causing flare-ups followed by periods of remission.
The swelling eventually causes bone erosion and joint deformity. The inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis can spread through your body, damaging many systems, including your skin, eyes, lungs, and blood vessels.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis both cause pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility, but they have distinguishing signs:
- Pain increases during activities
- Sensation of grinding in affected joints
- Morning stiffness that lasts less than 20-30 minutes
- Swelling of three or more joints
- Swelling of the same joints on both sides of your body
- Morning stiffness that lasts at least an hour
It’s important to see your doctor at Boerne Family Medicine at the first signs of arthritis, so you can get treatment to prevent or slow down progressive joint deterioration.
Treatment for both types of arthritis includes physical activity. Even though it’s hard to stay active when your joints are stiff and painful, gentle exercise balanced with rest maintains joint mobility and relieves pain.
Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may provide some relief for osteoarthritis symptoms; otherwise, you only routinely use medications for rheumatoid arthritis.
Medications for rheumatoid arthritis help slow down the disease’s progression, keep it in remission, and prevent ongoing joint damage. These medications are called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic response modifiers, which is a newer class of DMARDs.
Please call Boerne Family Medicine or schedule an appointment online so we can help you find relief from arthritis symptoms and create a plan to keep you active.