Rheumatoid Arthritis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and More
Rheumatism and arthritis both tend to be used as descriptions for a variety of symptoms, such as joint pain and inflammation. Here, we will clarify exactly what is meant by the terms "arthritis" and "rheumatism," and how two modern-day terms describe two different conditions: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
There is no major difference.
The most important difference is that rheumatism is no longer the preferred term. Rheumatism is still found in the dictionary and refers to a number of conditions of the muscles and joints.
However, doctors no longer use the word. Black's medical dictionary says it is "an obsolete medical term which no longer has a defined meaning. Words similar to rheumatism are still in use by medical professionals; rheumatoid and rheumatology, for example. Rheumatologists are doctors that specialize in the management of diseases of joints and connective tissues. When non-doctors use the word "arthritis," they are sometimes referring to osteoarthritis, when they use the word "rheumatism," they often mean rheumatoid arthritis.
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Arthritis literally means "joint inflammation," but it is used as a collective term for a complex family of musculoskeletal muscle and skeleton disorders that include over different diseases or conditions. The Arthritis Foundation, a non-profit organization in the U. Although the image that comes to mind when discussing arthritis is an older adult, arthritis can affect people of any age. In fact, two-thirds of the cases of arthritis are found in adults under the age of 65, and , children in America have arthritis. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
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Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis. It is caused by wear and tear on the joints.
The symptoms usually develop gradually and include:. Cartilage protects and cushions the joints, stopping bones from rubbing against each other. In osteoarthritis, this cartilage is damaged and becomes lost, which allows bones to collide painfully. It might simply be due to the overuse of a particular joint, this is called primary osteoarthritis. In other cases, osteoarthritis might be due to a medical condition like obesity. In these cases, it is referred to as secondary osteoarthritis.
However, sometimes, the cause of osteoarthritis is not clear. Rheumatoid arthritis is another common form of arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body mistakes its own tissues as foreign and attacks them. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks joints and other parts of the body, producing symptoms that often involve pain, fatigue , and warm, swollen, inflamed-looking joints.
Osteoarthritis is due to wear and tear; rheumatoid arthritis is because of an inappropriate immune response. In both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, joints will be stiff and painful in the morning.
For osteoarthritis, this will last around 20 minutes, but for rheumatoid arthritis, it can last more than 45 minutes. It is worth noting that it is possible to have both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. For instance, an individual might have rheumatoid arthritis in their knee and osteoarthritis in the bones of the spine.
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Osteoarthritis does not cause rheumatoid arthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis can lead to secondary osteoarthritis by damaging the joint. Article last updated on Mon 17 July Visit our Rheumatoid Arthritis category page for the latest news on this subject, or sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest updates on Rheumatoid Arthritis.
All references are available in the References tab. Arthritis basics. Osteoarthritis: what you need to know. Understanding arthritis. MediLexicon, Intl.
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