Bones, including the ones in your hands and wrists, are protected by cartilage. However, your cartilage wears out over time, resulting in stiffness, pain, and swelling in joints. Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis can cause you to experience stiffness, loss of motion, and pain in your hands. Although they’re both types of arthritis, they affect you in different ways.
But how will you identify what type of arthritis you are experiencing? Read on to find out the difference between rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
Causes of Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis
You become more susceptible to osteoarthritis as you age. Various factors lead to the development of this condition, including mechanical considerations and biochemical factors. Osteoarthritis is also referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis.
Within your joints are tissues called cartilage. Cartilage cushions your bones and allows you to move smoothly. However, the cartilage in your joints, especially the cartilage in small joints, deteriorates with age. If the cartilage in a joint degrades completely, the bones in that joint grind against each other.
Other than age, osteoarthritis is influenced by many factors, such as:
- Excessive physical activity
- Excessive weight
- Family medical history
- Other diseases
On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which means your immune system attacks your body’s tissues. This disorder specifically targets synovium, a tissue that nurtures the joints and tendons of the body.
This type of arthritis usually starts in the hands, ankles, and feet. It often impacts similar joints on both sides of the body. The direct cause of rheumatoid arthritis is still unknown. However, certain factors can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, including:
Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis have similar symptoms. Both types of arthritis tend to cause:
- Joint stiffness
However, both conditions also have unique symptoms related to their causes.
Osteoarthritis is caused by the degradation of cartilage in a joint, which causes problems related to the bones touching.
- Grinding sensation. You may be able to feel the bones grinding against each other due to the lack of lubrication and cushioning.
- Bone spurs. Small lumps or rough patches of bone may form around the area. These spurs can cause additional pain.
- Decreased range of motion. Due to the loss of cushioning material, your joint may not be able to move as it did before. This symptom is distinct from stiffness. Stiffness may be helped by stretching. With a decreased range of motion, it’s not physically possible to move the joint past a certain point.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. While it may initially target your hands, its effects may extend further. In severe cases, you may experience:
- Loss of appetite
Arthritis Treatment in South Texas
Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis are both diseases that can affect hand joints. Both of them cause pain and make movement an unnecessary challenge. Don’t wait for your arthritis to get worse before seeking help at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. Our team of specialists stands ready to provide you the care you need and deserve.
Are you dealing with muscle or joint pain or injury? We will provide the most appropriate orthopedic techniques to treat and restore you to health. Whether you have an injury that needs treatment or are adapting to arthritis, we can help. To request an appointment, fill out our convenient online form or call us at (210) 692-7400.