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Joint Pain – Arthritis or Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis and arthritis are common rheumatic diseases, especially the former, and some of their manifestations are similar, which can lead to confusion and misunderstandings. However, their origin, evolution and treatment are very different.
In either case, it is important to know that both involve joint pain and for this it is necessary to first define what the joints are.

Anatomy of the joints.

Joints are the structures in which bones are connected and which provide both mobility and stability to the various skeletal segments. There are several types of joints, some fixed and others, most of them, more or less mobile. The mobile joints, which are the ones affected in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), are formed by the ends of two or more bones and other equally important components, such as the articular cartilage, the joint capsule and the synovial membrane.
The bone surfaces are not in direct contact with the joints, but are covered by a band of elastic tissue, the articular cartilage, which prevents friction and wear. In large joints, such as the knees and hips, the articular cartilage is about 3-4 mm thick, whereas in the finger joints it is only a fraction of a millimetre thick.
The joint capsule is a sac-like envelope that encloses the entire joint. It is made up of two membranes, an external one, which is fibrous and resistant, and an internal one, which is softer and is called synovial membrane.
The synovial membrane covers the inner surface of the joint capsule and has the task of producing a viscous fluid, the synovial or joint fluid, which fills the joint cavity and acts as a lubricant that reduces friction between the joint structures.

Are rheumatic diseases exclusively joint diseases?

No, not necessarily. Rheumatic diseases are a broad group of disorders that generically affect the locomotor system or musculoskeletal system – basically composed of bones, muscles, tendons and joints – and are not directly or immediately related to trauma.
Some rheumatic diseases can cause arthritis, i.e. inflammation of one or more joints, as is the case with RA. But others, on the other hand, can affect the bones exclusively, as in the case of osteoporosis, or are due to a degenerative process, as in the case of osteoarthritis, the most common rheumatic ailment.

Differences between Arthrosis and Arthritis (RA).

RA is an inflammatory disease that primarily affects the synovial membrane, whereas osteoarthritis is a non-inflammatory pathology, as it corresponds to a degenerative disorder of the articular cartilage.

In relation to the joints affected, in RA, the most commonly injured joints are those of the extremities (in particular, the fingers, toes, ankles, knees, shoulders and elbows), which are usually affected symmetrically on both sides of the body. In osteoarthritis, on the other hand, the joints most frequently affected are the knees and hips, although practically all large and small joints can suffer from this disorder, and it is also unusual for the lesions to be symmetrical on both sides of the body.
In addition to these two diseases, we know that there are many other alterations of the musculoskeletal system that directly affect the articular cartilage, some as a result of sports practice.
In the next posts we want to make visible some of the most frequent injuries that affect the articular cartilage and help you in their treatment and prevention.
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Source: Conartritis

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