What is the difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis of the joints?

The problem of joint diseases is always current. After forty, about a third of all people begin to feel pain when moving, and after fifty, more than half of the population begins to feel pain. Doctors call the gradual destruction of cartilage, ligaments, bones and soft tissues around the joints by the general term "osteoarthritis".

How can this condition be prevented? And what treatments will help relieve pain when the disease has already developed? To answer these questions, you must first understand the difference between arthritis and arthrosis - the most common joint pathologies.

What is arthritis?

Stages of arthritis development - inflammatory joint damage

What is the main difference between arthritis and arthrosis can be seen from the name: acute, sudden diseases end with "-itis"; with "-od" - diseases with a slow course, chronic processes.

Arthritis is an inflammatory joint lesion that occurs due to a malfunction of the immune system due to infection (for example, strep throat or otitis media), trauma, metabolic disorders, hypothermia, stress, or other reasons (even autoimmune).

The first signs appear like this:

  • sharp pain in one or more joints (often not only during movement), especially early in the morning;
  • enlargement, swelling, edema, redness of the painful joint;
  • noticeable increase in temperature at the site of inflammation.

The inflammatory processes caused by arthritis can affect the whole body. In this case, the patient feels a high temperature, chills, loses strength, inflammation of other organs may occur (eyes, genitourinary system, even heart, lungs, liver and kidneys).

Arthritis has several dozen forms. The most common of them are:

  • rheumatism- inflammation of the connective tissue of large and medium joints that occurs after infections;
  • rheumatoid arthritis- an autoimmune slow process that symmetrically affects several joints at once; causes the appearance of "knots", pain, loss of mobility; can cause inflammation of many organs;
  • gout- caused by the accumulation of uric acid in the blood and salt in the joints; most often it starts with a sharp pain in the joint of the thumb;
  • reactive arthritis- occurs in the background of damage to the organism by infections (chlamydia, streptococci, etc. );
  • infectious arthritis– starts due to bacterial infection of the joint itself.

What is osteoarthritis?

Unlike arthritis, arthrosis is not accompanied by inflammatory processes. It provokes poor circulation in the joint, which causes the cartilaginous parts to begin to dry out.

Arthrosis is a disease that deforms and destroys joint tissue. It dehydrates, thins and "wears out" the connecting layers. The bones begin to touch each other, which causes pain and makes it difficult for a person to move.

Signs of arthrosis of the joints are:

  • after a long period of immobility (for example, a night's rest), the joint "freezes" but then develops rapidly when activity resumes;
  • the work of the joint is accompanied by strange sounds (clicking, creaking, creaking);
  • physical activity causes pain.

What are the differences between arthritis and arthrosis?

Both of these diseases affect the joints. But they are caused by different reasons, unfold differently and can lead to very different consequences. Only a correct diagnosis, based on the difference between arthritis and arthrosis, can prevent irreparable damage to the body.

It takes time for cartilage tissue degeneration to develop sufficiently and bone deformation to begin. Therefore, chronic arthrosis usually manifests itself in old age (after 60 years, less often after 50). The most susceptible to changes are the joints that constantly work under load: the fingers of musicians, the knees of athletes and loaders, the ankles of people who walk a lot or work standing, etc.

In contrast, arthritis can occur even in a child. The inflammatory process causes the pathology of the synovial membrane, saturated with blood vessels and joint fluid (while in arthrosis it is simply produced in insufficient quantities). Unfortunately, almost every fifth case of disability in the world is caused by various forms and complications of arthritis.

Inflammation can affect not only joints, but also other tissues with active blood circulation: blood vessels and heart, lungs, abdominal organs, eyes, urinary system, etc. On the other hand, arthrosis is limited by local mechanical bone damage and the formation of osteophytes in areas of joint deformation. Although in the late stage and advanced forms, the disease can lead to disability, completely immobilizing a person's limbs.

How are arthritis and arthrosis manifested?

Joint pain is the most noticeable manifestation of arthrosis and arthritis.

Let's compare the external manifestations in order to clearly explain the difference between the symptoms of arthritis and arthrosis.

  1. Pain. In the initial stages of arthrosis (which lasts for years), joint pain occurs during physical activity and disappears after rest. It is rarely sharp and strong. Even when the disease is developing, when pain can appear even with small movements and even at rest, it is usually enough to give the body a comfortable position to calm the pain. With arthritis, the patient is tormented by sharp attacks of severe pain, which can only be extinguished with special drugs. A characteristic symptom is pain during rest, especially early in the morning.
  2. Clicking, creaking, cracking joints. In joints affected by arthrosis, cartilage layers are destroyed. They stop protecting the heads of the bones from mutual contact. Because of this, when moving, the bones touch and rub, producing harsh, dry sounds. The more the disease progresses, the stronger and louder the joints. Arthritis is usually not accompanied by such symptoms.
  3. Deformation of the joint and surrounding tissues. Arthrosis that develops over time causes a change in the shape of the bones: their heads begin to crumble and wear out, and osteophytes may appear. Sometimes swelling and pain occur in the acute stages, but these symptoms are not permanent. But the joint affected by arthritis becomes inflamed and swollen. Swelling and compaction occur. The skin becomes red and hot.
  4. Limited mobility. Osteoarthritis causes stiffness in a particular joint that disappears with movement. In deeper stages, stiffness increases, flexion amplitude decreases, which eventually leads to immobility. With arthritis, you may feel stiff throughout your body, and trying to move will cause sharp pain.
  5. Changes in blood composition. Arthrosis is not an inflammatory disease, so it is not reflected in the analysis. Arthritis causes a significant increase in the sedimentation rate of erythrocytes, which indicates an active infectious and inflammatory process.

Therefore, the symptoms of arthrosis in the early stages can rarely cause severe anxiety and discomfort. This leads to a careless attitude and late diagnosis of the disease, which makes further treatment difficult.

Causes of osteoarthritis

There are several factors that increase the risk of pathological changes in the joints and surrounding tissues: constant overload, imbalance of the immune and hormonal systems, poor physical form. Therefore, to prevent the disease, you must regularly follow these recommendations:

  1. Maintain moderate physical activity with simple exercises, walking, swimming, etc. This will help you get rid of excess weight, improve blood circulation, strengthen muscles - and thereby relieve stress on the joints.
  2. Try to eat healthy food. Fatty foods, red meat and alcohol can be harmful. On the contrary, seafood, fruits and vegetables, and dishes containing cartilage and gelatin will be beneficial for the body. It is important to drink a lot of clean water (2-3 liters per day).
  3. Choose appropriate clothes and shoes: comfortable heels, warm enough, do not restrict movement.
  4. If possible, avoid stress, disturbances and other "shocks" to the body.

However, if a person has already been diagnosed with arthritis or arthrosis, before performing even such simple actions, you should consult a doctor. In some cases, conventional prevention can also cause harm and make the condition worse.

But how are arthritis and arthrosis treated? What's the difference? The causes of these pathologies are different: immune processes, the fight against infection in the first case versus cartilage malnutrition in the second. Therefore, the ways to solve them will be different. To choose the right course of action, you must first make an accurate diagnosis.

To do this, it is best to undergo radiography and MRI in combination with laboratory tests of blood and urine. After studying the results, the doctor will prescribe appropriate recommendations.

Treatment of arthritis

If the acute form of the disease is caused by an infection, then it can be cured with antibiotics. But in this case it is important to choose the medicine precisely: it is necessary to neutralize the pathogenic bacteria before the pathology of the joint becomes irreversible. The course is supplemented with anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs that support immunity.

In the case of chronic arthritis (for example, rheumatoid), treatment must be carried out regularly throughout life. Corticosteroids, cytostatics and modern biological products are most often used. These are quite powerful drugs, so proper calculation of dosage, frequency and duration of use is critical to ensure they do not harm the body.

For severe pain, your doctor may also prescribe a course of analgesics. And accompanying methods of support are definitely recommended: diet, physical therapy and a course of physical therapy. If the inflammation has spread to other organs, the patient must be referred for additional specialist examinations.

Treatment of arthrosis

Modern methods enable almost complete elimination of disease manifestations if the diagnosis is made at an early stage, and the patient's age does not reach forty years. In order to achieve this, in addition to the standard monitoring of stress on the joint and a course of drugs (they trigger regeneration, restore nutrition and hydration of the cartilage), the patient can be prescribed mud compresses, electrophoresis and acoustic therapy (which works on sick people). tissues with low frequency sounds).

In elderly people or in advanced forms, arthrosis cannot be completely cured, although it is possible to achieve a significant improvement in the condition and slow down the destructive processes in the joint. This requires strict adherence to the doctor's recommendations: regular use of medications (for example, chondroprotectors), maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, timely completion of prescribed procedures, monitoring of joint loading.

In arthrosis, the main attention is paid to restoring the cartilage layer. If there are accompanying symptoms of inflammatory processes, antibiotics or corticosteroids can be prescribed to relieve the acute stage and switch to the main treatment regimen. In some severe cases, surgery and even the implantation of an artificial joint may be required.