Thankfully, today we understand a lot about both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and how to manage them well, especially when they’re diagnosed early. Still, many people misunderstand the differences between the two. In this article, we’ll look at how rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis and how the former must be handled as an autoimmune disease.
What Is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the slow deterioration of cartilage in the joints. Our cartilage works as a shock absorber, and as it deteriorates in the case of osteoarthritis, we lose that shock absorption. Over time, as osteoarthritis progresses, this deterioration can become so bad that, eventually, bone rubs quite painfully against bone.
The most common cause of osteoarthritis is age. As we age, our cartilage simply wears out. In the same way, wear and tear on the joints from sports or injuries can also lead to osteoarthritis, and genetics play a role as well.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis because it’s an autoimmune disease and it can strike anyone, no matter their age or level of physical activity. As with all autoimmune diseases, with rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system turns on its own tissues, joints, and sometimes organs, attacking them. This attack on the body from its own immune system causes inflammation, pain in the joints, and exhaustion, and it sometimes has a crippling effect.
How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated?
Prescription medications, such as antirheumatic drugs, are available to help with the rheumatoid inflammation. Some people find natural methods such as acupuncture and massage helpful. Always consult your physician before trying anything new.
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, and just like any autoimmune disease, one must handle it carefully with the proper medication, lifestyle, and support. Autoimmune diseases can be difficult to cope with at first. Thankfully, with the right support and care, many people live normal lives despite their autoimmune diseases.
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis cause discomfort, but thankfully, both are manageable when caught early. However, keep in mind that although rheumatoid is considered a form of arthritis, it’s also an autoimmune disease, which opens the door to additional issues. If you’re diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, listen to your doctor, understand the disease, and allow yourself the rest and care you need to fight back.