Arthritis and osteoarthritis: how they differ

therapeutic exercises for arthritis and osteoarthritis

The diseases of arthritis and osteoarthritis are often confused due to the similarity of the names. Yes, and both ailments are affected by the joints (for example, there is arthritis and osteoarthritis of the knee joint). The affected joints become inflamed, swollen, and painful. Otherwise, these are completely different diseases. Let's try to find out how arthritis differs from osteoarthritis.

Difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis

Arthritis is accompanied by inflammation of the articular joints, which, in turn, leads to impaired motor functions. The patient experiences discomfort, has sharp or aching pain, both during physical activity and during rest, especially in the morning. The skin around the joint becomes swollen, red, and tight. Body temperature often rises. Osteoarthritis is a disease in which degenerative processes occur in the articular cartilage. The modified cartilage stops coping with the load that falls on them and is gradually destroyed. Pain caused by exertion usually goes away with rest. The tissues around the joint become swollen and inflamed. The progressive disease leads to cartilage destruction and severe joint deformity. The difference between osteoarthritis and arthritis lies in the causes of the diseases. Osteoarthritis occurs:

  • primary, generally associated with old age;
  • secondary, derived from other diseases or genetically determined.

The predisposing factors for the development of osteoarthritis are:

  • excessive weight;
  • excessive physical activity (most of the time, in athletes) or too little physical activity;
  • past injuries;
  • endocrine diseases.

Arthritis is inflammatory. There are causes of the disease such as:

  • various infections;
  • joint damage and repeated minor injuries;
  • metabolic disorders;
  • allergy;
  • trace element and vitamin deficiency.

Arthritis and osteoarthritis analysis

For the early diagnosis of diseases affecting the supporting apparatus, the specialist must collect a complete anamnesis. The patient is invited to pass the following tests and perform the specified examinations:

  1. A clinical blood test to determine the level of ESR (with arthritis, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate increases markedly, with arthrosis it is almost normal)
  2. Biochemical blood test to identify the lack of macro and micronutrients, characteristic of arthritis.
  3. X-ray to help detect bone deformity inherent in osteoarthritis and determine joint space width.
  4. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which allows you to identify changes in cartilage tissue in the early stages of the disease.

Cause of disease

The main difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis is the origin of the diseases. Arthritis is an infectious disease that causes inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative process that occurs in the body as a result of the natural wear and tear of the joints and aging, which causes the destruction of the cartilage layer in the joint. Therefore, osteoarthritis is mainly characteristic of the elderly and arthritis can be contracted at any age, even in childhood. Women are more likely to have arthritis. Osteoarthritis affects both women and men who have reached old age. Most often, arthritis is caused by:

  • various infections;
  • allergic reactions;
  • joint damage;
  • frequent minor injuries;
  • physical stress;
  • metabolic disorders;
  • vitamin and mineral deficiency;
  • autoimmune disorders;
  • Diseases of the nervous system.

Also, arthritis often develops as a complication of osteoarthritis, but not the other way around. Osteoarthritis is mainly due to:

  • genetic predisposition;
  • insufficient blood supply and bone nutrition;
  • excessive stress on the joints;
  • joint injuries;
  • hypothermia.

Symptoms of joint diseases.

Despite the fact that both diseases are accompanied by painful sensations, these sensations arise in different conditions. With arthritis, pain appears both during physical exertion and during sleep and in the morning. With arthrosis, pain worries a person only during physical exertion.

Another characteristic difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis is the nature of the pain. Arthritis is characterized by sharp, sharp, spasmodic pains, and osteoarthritis is dull and painful, accompanied by a cracking sound.

Arthritis most often affects small joints and osteoarthritis - large joints (especially the knee and hip). Osteoarthritis affects only the joints. In arthritis, the inflammation can spread to various joints and other organs. Also, arthritis is accompanied by fever, swelling, and redness in the affected area. Sometimes with arthritis, subcutaneous rheumatic nodules appear. Over time, osteoarthritis leads to joint deformities, which can become thin and odd.


For diagnosis, similar methods are used (X-ray, CT scan, laboratory tests), but their results will be different. In arthritis, a complete blood count will show an increase in the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and a high concentration of C-reactive protein, leukocytes, and seromucoid. With osteoarthritis, such an analysis will not detect any deviation.

Treatment of arthritis and osteoarthritis

Various specialists are engaged in the treatment of diseases. Osteoarthritis is treated by an orthopedic traumatologist, and in case of arthritis, the cause of the disease is first established, and then, depending on it, a specialist is selected. Diseases are treated with identical methods, with medication and physical therapy. If the disease has gone too far, surgery is used - endoprosthesis or joint replacement. But there are also some differences in the treatment of diseases. Arthritis requires immediate and active therapy, and osteoarthritis requires comprehensive and long-term treatment. Treatment of arthritis begins with changes in diet and lifestyle. Then the patient is prescribed anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drugs, as well as physiotherapy procedures. Osteoarthritis is treated with hormonal, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving drugs. Arthritis is usually completely cured and osteoarthritis, which is a chronic disease, causes irreversible consequences in the joints that cannot be treated; it is only possible to slow down degenerative processes.

These two consonant-named diseases are similar in that they are symptoms of rheumatism. Make no mistake, however: osteoarthritis is a mechanical disease, and with arthritis, the joints become inflamed. In simpler terms, if the sore joints are inflamed, the patient has arthritis. If the joint pain is weak, then it is osteoarthritis. In this article we will try to explain in accessible language how they differ. For those unfamiliar with medicine, it is difficult to distinguish between the two. Since both diseases are directly related to rheumatism. Both ailments cause pain and discomfort in the joints, which remain immobile. The symptoms of these diseases, as well as the ways to treat them, are very different.

What is the difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis?

the doctor examines the joints of the hands with osteoarthritis and arthritis

The difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis is that with arthritis, the joints become inflamed. As a result, enzymes are released that lead to their destruction. They form proteins that bind them together. This is one of the causes of pain. Most of the time it happens when a person is asleep. With physical effort, it yields a little. Weakness is felt in the morning. This ailment affects the joints of the legs and arms.

Arthritis can have different causes. For example, septic arthritis is caused by infection and rheumatoid arthritis is caused by lowered immunity. Gout develops due to metabolic disorders.

Joint changes occur along with physiological changes. As a result, the skin can become hot or red.

How is arthritis treated?

To cure it, it is necessary to relieve symptoms and restore joint mobility. To do this, it is recommended to try different methods. They can be combined if necessary. This will help determine which one works best. Also, with these ailments, the results of a blood test differ. With osteoarthritis, protein levels increase. If the patient has arthritis, there are no changes in the composition of the blood. When choosing a remedy used to get rid of such problems, the type of this disease should be taken into account. It is most often used to cure:

  • corticosteroids;
  • biological and anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • analgesics;
  • anti-irritant drugs;
  • antirheumatic drugs;
  • therapeutic methods.

Physical activity is required to heal. With specialized exercises, you can strengthen your joints and keep your muscles toned. Staples or splints are sometimes used for this purpose. If other methods of therapy don't help, doctors suggest removing the damaged joints. They are being replaced by artificial ones. Most of the time, the knees are treated this way. This operation is done to relieve discomfort and restore your activity. After this procedure, joint destruction is slower. Also, with surgical methods, it is common to perform an operation to cut the joint tissue. At the same time, foreign particles are removed from its shell. Patients undergo these operations to smooth rough surfaces and change the angle of pressure.

How is osteoarthritis treated?

gymnastics for arthritis and osteoarthritis

To cure this disease, you must reduce your risk factors. Overweight people are advised to eat properly. Patients must control their diet. This is especially true for those who have undergone surgery for bone structure pathology.

If the patient's condition does not improve, you can get rid of the problems by using anti-inflammatory and pain relievers. In order not to have to wear a prosthesis, the patient should be prescribed hyaluronic acid. It will also help relieve discomfort.

You should not completely reduce physical activity. Exercise should be beneficial to your health. This should prevent weight gain. If you have a suspicion of a particular disease, do not panic and do not try to treat it yourself. Prompt diagnosis and correctly prescribed treatment increase your chances of a speedy recovery.

The main differences

As mentioned above, osteoarthritis is a mechanical ailment. With it, the articular cartilage periodically contracts until it disappears. As a result, the bones that are rubbed are exposed. It occurs mainly in the elderly. In this case, patients note certain characteristic features associated with the appearance of the joints. As a rule, you have the following reasons associated with injuries, abnormalities in the structure of bones, excess weight. Most often, it affects the joints of the pelvis and knees. It often damages the joints of the neck and spine. Unlike arthritis, osteoarthritis can cause great discomfort when moving. The problem disappears between walking, running, etc. But apart from unpleasant sensations, it cannot manifest itself in the form of inflammation, which is why it is often called a "cold" disease.