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Tag: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Conditions General Hands

What is the Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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The differences between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are significant, but the ability to identify one over the other can be somewhat elusive to the general public. A proper diagnosis is crucial for effective arthritis treatment.

The symptoms of these two common forms of arthritis may be similar, but the conditions are actually very different.

The word “arthritis” itself isn’t as much of a diagnosis as a description of more than 100 different types of ailments that involve joint pain or inflammation. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the most common forms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 32.5 million U.S. adults suffer from osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 1.3 million adults in the U.S.

To help you communicate your concerns to Dr. Arora, we offer the following comparison as a guide.

What is Osteoarthritis?

In very general terms, osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage in a joint wears out. It usually begins in one joint and may never affect other joints.

The pain can be mild, moderate, or severe. Moderate or severe osteoarthritis pain can make it difficult for patients to complete everyday activities, such as buttoning a shirt or tying their shoes.

It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older. Other risk factors for osteoarthritis include obesity, genetics, and joint injury or overuse.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. When this occurs, the immune system essentially “malfunctions” and attacks the synovial membrane that encases and protects the joints. It frequently affect several joints at the same time.

Beyond the pain, inflammation, and swelling common in other forms of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may include fever, anemia, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Rheumatoid arthritis may also show signs in the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, salivary glands, nerve tissue, bone marrow, and blood vessels. It tends to be symmetrical, so symptoms may occur on both sides of the body simultaneously.

This form of arthritis is a chronic condition. There is no cure, and it is likely to progress over time. However, treatment options can reduce pain, make the symptoms manageable, and prevent significant joint damage.

Women are more likely to develop RA than men are. RA can begin at any age but most commonly starts in middle age. Other risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis include family history, smoking, and excess weight.

4 Key Differences Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

1. Number of Joints Affected

Osteoarthritis may only affect one joint. Rheumatoid arthritis may affect several at the same time.

2. Symmetry

Rheumatoid arthritis tends to be symmetrical, meaning it affects both elbows, for instance. Osteoarthritis is more centralized, so it might or might not affect both sides of the body.

However, both sides of the body may become affected due to the exertion of too much pressure on one side. For example, if you experience osteoarthritis pain in your left wrist, you may use your right wrist more often, eventually causing the right wrist to act up as well.

3. Duration of Symptoms

The duration and extent of the pain is different.

With RA, joint pain and swelling can come and go, but the disease never really goes away. The goal of rheumatoid arthritis treatment is to make you feel better and get your symptoms under control, known as “remission.”

Osteoarthritis is also permanent and the pain and swelling are similar, but the condition can improve over time.

4. Additional Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis may have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, anemia, and loss of appetite. Osteoarthritis is usually only pain, swelling, and some loss of flexibility in the particular joint that is affected at the time.

If you are experiencing arthritis pain in your hands, wrists, or elbows, it’s important to determine the type of arthritis in order to create the best treatment and prevention plan for you. For an evaluation, diagnosis, and arthritis treatment, make an appointment to see Dr. Arora in Warren, West Bloomfield, Howell, or Macomb Township.

Conditions General

A Deeper Look at Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Most are familiar with the term “arthritis,” but many of us do not know that there is more than one form of this condition, including rheumatoid arthritis. Generally, arthritis is meant to describe an inflamed joint (as that is what the word arthritis actually means), but there are a few different ways this can happen.

For example, there is osteoarthritis, there is arthritis that develops following an injury or trauma, and there is arthritis that can develop after an infection, due to gout, and from the skin condition known as psoriasis. There is also rheumatoid arthritis.

Though this does cause inflamed joints, rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition, meaning it can appear anywhere in the body – and even spread over time. In any sort of arthritis, the surfaces of the joint cease to move fluidly against one another. When it is rheumatoid arthritis, it can affect any of the bones in the hand, wrist and forearms. It will begin by attacking the synovial tissue, which is composed of cells that lubricate the joints. The synovium will be irritated, inflamed and swollen due to the condition, and this is going to quickly damage the bones and cartilage.

Though it is very common in the hands, it can happen anywhere, and is often found on both sides of the body. In the hands, it will cause the connective tissues between the bones to swell and stretch. This leads to deformity, but so too does inflammation that appears in tendons holding muscles to bones.

Recognizing Rheumatoid Arthritis

It is not difficult for a hand surgeon or expert to recognize the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and the sooner you begin addressing the condition the better your chances at managing it and maintaining range of motion in the hands.

Will you recognize the condition? Firstly, it tends to strike the knuckles of the fingers and the wrist area. It manifests as swelling and stiffness, but can also present some pain. The fingers will often swell, though not uniformly, and one finger may be far more swollen than others. (WebMD, 2015)

You might also notice that individual fingers are suffering some deformity. There are two ways this appears: as a Boutoniere deformity that forces the middle joint of the finger upward or the sway-back deformity that forces the middle joint into a bent position that forces the fingertip downward.

There will sometimes be a noticeable sound during movement, a “drifting” of the fingers in a direction away from the thumb, development of carpal tunnel syndrome (in which inflammation of tendons causes numbness when fingers are bent), tendon rupture, weakness or instability in joints, and a lump at the back of the hand that seems to move when you use the tendons of the hand.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Clearly, that is a long list of symptoms, and few patients can identify all of the signs. The first thing to do when you notice pain or swelling in the hands, or even one joint of the hand, is to visit your hand doctor. They can perform a thorough assessment and even order x-rays and/or blood tests to determine exactly what is going on.

Once a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is made, the emphasis of the treatment is on retaining or restoring function while reducing pain. Medications and therapies are available, but the first, and most important step is the diagnosis and work with your hand doctor.

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Dr. Aroras office from my first call to schedule my appointment was friendly. Walking in the first day, I felt like I was in a nice atmosphere. Dr. Arora was EXCELLENT in taking great care of my hand injury. He was gentle and very understanding to the concerns I had about my hand. His expertise was admirable and I would recommend anyone with an injury to their hand to his office to be under his care. Because of him, I have healed faster than expected and will make an 100% recovery! Thank you Dr.

Jackie S.

I first thought I was going to have to have painful injections or surgery, but Dr. Arora suggested physical therapy may do the trick. I was doubtful, but I agreed to do it. Now, my pain is gone, and with the help of an ergonomic keyboard at work to keep my hands in the correct position, I am virtually pain free. The therapy strengthened my wrists and shoulders, and built more flexibility into my wrists.

Jerry T.

My experience with this doctor was positive from the outset. Dr. Arora was kind and spent a great deal of time with me. Staff was friendly. The office was nice and bright.

Ariel G.

Very friendly and helpful Great staff!!! Doctor Arora was very professional and did great work. I was very happy with everything!

L B.