How Rheumatoid Arthritis Differs From Other Types

When someone says they have arthritis, they’re usually referring to osteoarthritis — a degenerative condition of the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is characterized by the breakdown and wearing away of cartilage, the connective tissue that cushions the joints. Cartilage may degrade due to injury, wear-and-tear, or aging.

Rheumatoid arthritis is quite different from osteoarthritis and other forms of joint inflammation. At Valerius Medical Group & Research Center, we specialize in treating and researching this autoimmune condition. Read on to learn the details about the disease and the special care it needs.

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that occurs when your immune system attacks your joints and other organs. Your immune system is designed to protect you from foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria. If you have an autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, your body mistakenly sees your own tissue as an invader and attacks it.

In rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system goes after the synovium in the joints. The inflammation leads to joint breakdown and permanent damage.

How is it different?

Arthritis of all types can cause similar symptoms. These include:

Your symptoms, regardless of the type of arthritis you have, are usually most prominent when you awaken in the morning.

Rheumatoid arthritis may have additional symptoms of muscle aches, excessive fatigue, and, in children, low-grade fever. You may also experience light sensitivity, lung inflammation, chronic cough, and skin nodules among other symptoms.

Rheumatoid arthritis can develop at any age. Many other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and gout, most often occur in older adults.

People with rheumatoid arthritis usually notice pain and swelling that begins in the smaller joints, such as the fingers. With time, rheumatoid arthritis progresses to larger joints, including your knees and shoulders. You’ll notice pain on both sides of your body, too. Rheumatoid arthritis equally affects your right and left side.

Osteoarthritis can affect you unequally. You may have more pain in one knee compared with the other. It also shows up prominently in larger joints, especially those that get a lot of work, like the hips and spine.

What are treatment strategies?

For most arthritis types, the goal of care is to reduce pain, improve function, and minimize joint damage. Over-the-counter and prescription pain medications, corticosteroid injections, and physical therapy can help people resolve symptoms of most types of arthritis, including rheumatoid. You may also benefit from immune-suppressing drugs if you have rheumatoid arthritis or pain from another autoimmune condition that affects your joints, such as psoriatic arthritis or lupus.

For people with rheumatoid arthritis, we offer infusion therapy that delivers medications directly into your bloodstream. This delivery method bypasses your digestive tract, meaning your cells immediately benefit from the healing compounds. People with osteoarthritis benefit from lubrication injections that can add cushioning at the joints.

If you’re suffering from chronic joint pain, don’t hesitate to call Valerius Medical Group & Research Center for evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. Regardless of the nature of your condition, we’re ready to help members of the Los Alamitos, California community manage their arthritis and live as normal a life as possible. Call the office or schedule a consultation using the online tool.

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