The Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

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What is the difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Sometimes, you can show how much you care by sharing what you know. But, other times, you can show how much you care by acknowledging what you don’t know.

A good friend asked me this week to explain the difference between Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and arthritis /Osteoarthritis (OA). I was really impressed with her. It took courage to admit she that did not know. Do you know how many people have asked me that? She is the first one.

How many people do I hear ask, “What is Rheumatoid Arthritis anyway?” Very, very few. They usually don’t already know. So, I wonder why not.

Anyway, that is the hand we’re dealt. So here is my short answer:

 If you have a favorite tool and you use it a lot, it can start to get rusty and worn. That’s OA. You can sometimes clean it up with chemicals or a salt scrub. That’s like getting arthroscopic surgery done to clean up a knee.

Think of Osteoarthritis like rust

Who does generic osteoarthritis strike? The most simple answer is anyone who has used a joint excessively: mainly that means old joints and athletes.

Rheumatoid Arthritis  is more complicated than osteoarthritis

It would be a bit more like leaving a brand new tool in a bucket of battery acid overnight. It is suddenly ruined. You better buy a new one.

That is the sudden destruction and disability of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Joints and their supporting tissues are suddenly destroyed and left disabled. Little holes in the bone called erosions tell the story of some erosive substance which has eaten away the flesh.  And once it begins, the destruction continues.

The joints cannot be cleaned out on an outpatient visit. Frequently, joints must just be replaced.

Where does Rheumaoid Arthritis strike?

Joints, organs, nerves, muscles, tendons, and bones in children, women, and men of all ages, but most frequently between 30 and 50.

Thank you to my friend for asking that very basic question. I am grateful that she gave me permission to share, so I tried to give a simple answer. With a short answer, perhaps more folks will be able to understand.

For a more complete answer, stay tuned to Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior. I know that my friend will because she cares. I know she cares because she told me what she did not know.

Recommended reading:

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 15th, 2009 at 4:44 pm and is filed under If you don't have RA, please read. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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