Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis symptoms – what is the difference between the conditions?
Rheuamtoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints and mainly affects the hands feet and wrists.
People suffering with rheumatoid arthritis often experience periods where the symptoms are worse.
These can be difficult to predict but there is treatment available which can ease pain and prevent long-term damage to the joints.
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis also experience problems in other parts of the body, or more general symptoms such as tiredness and weight loss.
NHS Choices said: “The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis often develop gradually over several weeks, but some cases can progress quickly over a number of days.”
The condition is an autoimmune condition, which means it is caused by the immune system attacking healthy body tissue – such as the lining go the joints.
It causes joints to become sore and inflamed and damages bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.
If the condition isn’t treated, these chemicals gradually cause the joint to lose its shape and alignment.
There is no cure for the condition but treatment can help reduce inflammation.
Osteoarthritis affects your joints and prevents them moving smoothly.
When a joint develops osteoarthritis, some of the cartilage covering the ends of the bones gradually roughens and becomes thin, and the bone underneath thickens.
According to Arthritis Research UK, over eight million people in the UK suffer from osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis can develop at any age. It is also more common among women.
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) is raising awareness for people with the condition in a bid to explain how debilitating it can be.
Compared to 127,000 people with Parkinson’s disease and 100,000 people living with Multiple Sclerosis in the UK – there is still very little awareness of RA, according to the society,
The society is holding an awareness week to help explain how people with the condition deal with it.
Ailsa Bosworth, Founder and CEO of NRAS, commented: “RA Awareness Week is very important in our calendar.
“We are dedicating seven days to tackle perceptions, broaden knowledge and understanding of RA.
“On the outside a person may look fine and as if they are coping, whilst in fact they may be struggling and fighting a fierce mental battle to just get through each day.”