Difference between Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Key Difference: ‘Arthritis’, the term is used to refer to more than hundreds of different varieties of joint problems marked by symptoms like pain, swelling and stiffness. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, which primarily affect people with serious joint injuries.

Arthritis is an umbrella term which covers more than 100 different conditions or diseases that affects joints and other parts of the body. It is covered under the rheumatic disease.  

It is also simply known as inflammation of the joints. All different types of Arthritis have different causes and different treatments. Some of the forms of arthritis are caused due to lesser values of the cartilage tissue as compared to the normal amount. This cartilage is a flexible and connective tissue in joints. This tissue takes the impact of pressure and shock generated by movements like running and walking.

Osteoarthritis is a form of Arthritis. It is caused by normal wear and tear throughout life. It generally develops slowly over time. Mostly it affects hands, knees, hips, feet and spine. It is commonly found in people of old age. This condition develops due to change in cartilage and thus affecting the working of joints.

Cartilage becomes pitted, rough and brittle. To lessen the load on cartilage the underlying bones thickens and broadens. Then bony outgrows start to form at the outer edges of the joint. Finally, it leads to a stiff joint making it painful to move and inflamed sometimes. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis. This condition can be developed suddenly for no specific reason or due to some secondary cause like joint damage resulted from an injury or trauma. Overweight is the main reason for development of osteoarthritis in the hips and joints of the legs.

Therefore, Osteoarthritis is the most common form of Arthritis. It is important to mention that there is basically no cure for arthritis. Most of the drugs and other treatments are used to manage it.

Comparison between Arthritis and Osteoarthritis:

 

Arthritis

Osteoarthritis

Definition

Arthritis is an umbrella term which covers more than 100 different conditions or diseases that affects joints and other parts of the body

Osteoarthritis is a form of Arthritis. It is caused by normal wear and tear throughout life. It generally develops slowly over time.

Treatment

The underlying cause cannot be cured. Thus, the emphasis is on reducing the pain by –

  • Specific exercise programs
  • Change in lifestyle – includes things like eating a healthy diet, sleeping for 8 to 10 hours a night, eating foods with omega 3 fatty acids, etc.
  • Medicines like acetaminophen, aspirin, naproxen may be recommended as over the counter medicines
  • Prescription medicines -Cortisoteroids, DMARD’s, Immunosuppressants like azathioprine or cyclophosphamide may also be prescribed.
  • There are a variety of over the counter creams and rubs which can help
  • Acetaminophen may be used for pain relief
  • If the condition worsens and medical therapies do not work then surgery may be considered (like hip and knee replacements)
  • Painkillers (analgesics) and anti-inflammatory medications (Non-Steroidal Anti- Inflammatory Drugs

 

  • Symptoms

Depends on the type of Arthritis –

  • Osteoarthritis – pain in a joint, stiff joint
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – painfully swollen, inflamed, and stiff joints
  • Infectious arthritis – fever, joint inflammation and swelling
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis – intermittent fever in children, poor appetite, some blotchy rashes can appear on arms and legs.
  • Deep, aching pain in a joint
  • Difficulty dressing or combing hair
  • Difficulty gripping objects
  • Difficulty sitting or bending over
  • Joint may be warm to touch
  • Morning stiffness for less than an hour
  • Pain when walking
  • Stiffness after resting
  • Swelling of joint

Cause

The causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis. Causes include -

  • Injury (leading to osteoarthritis)
  • Metabolic abnormalities (such as gout and pseudogout)
  • Hereditary factors
  • The direct and indirect effect of infections (bacterial and viral)
  • Misdirected immune system with autoimmunity (such as in rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus).

The specific causes of osteoarthritis are unknown, but are believed to be a result of both mechanical and molecular events in the affected joint.

Diagnosis

  • Physical examination by checking the joints for swelling, redness and warmth
  • Lab tests – testing of body fluids help in determining the type of arthritis
  • Arthroscopy – used for having a look at the damage in your joint
  • Imaging tests like X-rays, Computerized tomography, MRI, Ultrasound may also be conducted

Osteoarthritis is diagnosed based on medical history, physical examination and x-rays of the affected joints. 

Image Courtesy: humannhealth.com, medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com

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