Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)
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Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting about 27 million people in the United States. Osteoarthritis is caused by degeneration of cartilage, and is also known as degenerative arthritis. In contrast, rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking the joints. This autoimmune process causes systemic inflammation, while in osteoarthritis, mechanical degeneration causes localized inflammation.
Osteoarthritis commonly affects a single joint, such as one knee. Trauma, such as multiple injuries playing sports, is a risk factor for osteoarthritis. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis usually affects three or more joints, in a symmetric distribution (both wrists, both ankles, and/or the toes on both feet). Rheumatoid arthritis frequently, but not always, causes elevation in blood levels of substances that are markers of systemic inflammation such as the ESR (sed rate or erythrocyte sedimentation rate) and CRP (C-reactive protein). In contrast, osteoarthritis does not cause abnormal blood test results. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are hereditary. For example, if a woman (or man) has osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, her/his children are at increased risk of developing the same type of arthritis.
What Are the Different Types of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis usually begin gradually in several joints. Sometimes the symptoms begin only in one joint, and sometimes the symptoms begin initially in the whole body, with generalized stiffness and aching, and then localize to the joints.
Atypical presentations of RA
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/21/2016
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