Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It can affect both the larger and the smaller joints of the body, including the hands, feet, back, hip, and knee. The disease is essentially one acquired from daily wear and tear of the joint; however, osteoarthritis can also occur as a result of injury. Osteoarthritis begins in the cartilage and eventually causes the two opposing bones to erode into each other. Initially, the condition starts with minor pain while walking, but soon the pain can be continuous and even occur while in a state of rest. The pain can be debilitating and prevent one from doing some activities. Osteoarthritis typically affects the weight-bearing joints, such as the back, spine, and pelvis. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis is most commonly a disease of the elderly. More than 30 percent of females have some degree of osteoarthritis by age 65. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include prior joint trauma, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Osteoarthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, cannot be cured, but one can prevent the condition from worsening. Physical therapy to strengthen muscles and joints is very helpful. Pain medications are widely required by individuals with osteoarthritis. For some patients, weight loss can reduce the stress on the joints. When the disease is far advanced and the pain is continuous, surgery may be an option. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, joint replacement does help many individuals with osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder in which the body's own immune system starts to attack body tissues. The attack is not only directed at the joint but to many other parts of the body. In rheumatoid arthritis, most damage occurs to the joint lining and cartilage which eventually results in erosion of two opposing bones. Rheumatoid arthritis often affects joints in the fingers, wrists, knees and elbows. The disease is symmetrical (appears on both sides of the body) and can lead to severe deformity in a few years if not treated. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs mostly in people aged 20 and above. In children, the disorder can present with a skin rash, fever, pain, disability, and limitations in daily activities. Often, it is not clear why the rheumatoid arthritis occurred. With earlier diagnosis and aggressive treatment, many individuals can lead a decent quality of life. The drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis range from corticosteroids to monoclonal antibodies given intravenously. The latest drugs like Remicade can significantly improve quality of life in the short term. In rare cases, surgery may be required to replace joints but there is no cure for the illness.