Whats The Difference Between Rheumatoid Arthritis And Osteoarthritis
RA is an autoimmune disorder that produces inflammatory joint symptoms throughout the body. OA is a degenerative condition that is the result of increased wear and tear on joints. OA may produce inflammatory symptoms as well, but it primarily destroys joint cartilage over time.
Both RA and OA are more prevalent in women than in men. RA can develop in patients aged 30 to 60 at any time. OA generally develops later in life. Courses of treatment can also vary.
What Other Symptoms Do You Have
When deciding between an orthopedic surgeon and a rheumatologist, you should also consider what other symptoms you are experiencing.
Rheumatoid diseases are usually accompanied by secondary symptoms in addition to your musculoskeletal pain. You should audit your body and consider whether any of the following are present:
- Areas of the body being overly warm
- Skin conditions
- Swelling in areas without injury
These symptoms may indicate that your musculoskeletal pain is related to a further underlying condition, such as rheumatoid disease.
What Are The First Signs Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where your bodys immune system attacks the lining of the joints. This special lining produces fluid to help the joint move smoothly. Without it, your joints will quickly feel painful and tender. In its early stages, rheumatoid arthritis can include the following symptoms:
- Redness or swelling in smaller joints first
- Joint pain, tenderness, and stiffness that lasts for 6 weeks or longer
RA symptoms may come and go and be several all at once . Symptoms are typically felt on both sides of the body. As a result, if your right hand hurts, the odds are high that your left hand will hurt, too.
In addition, suppose your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms go undiagnosed and are untreated for too long. In that case, you may have painful and debilitating symptoms that go beyond joints and make performing daily activities difficult.
In severe cases, rheumatoid arthritis can affect organs and other body parts such as:
- Gum inflammation, dry mouth, eye dryness, and sensitivity to light
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Ask A Doctor: Rheumatoid Arthritis
Hand surgeon Mark Joseph Yuhas, MD answers your questions about rheumatoid arthritis.
What is arthritis? Can it affect the hand and wrist just the same as other joints such as the hip and knee?
Arthritis is a term that is used to describe pain and stiffness in a joint. A joint is a location in the body where two bones articulate, or move. Typically these joints have cartilage, a type of material in the body that is smooth and helps the joint to move without pain or restriction.
Arthritis involves a process where the cartilage is no longer smooth and begins to break down. This can result in pain, swelling, and loss of motion in many joints in the body including the fingers, hand, and wrist.
Are there different types of arthritis?
Yes, there are multiple forms of arthritis that can affect the joints. Generally, we describe arthritis as degenerative or inflammatory. There are other forms or causes of arthritis, such as gout, infection, or post-traumatic.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis. Other types of inflammatory arthritis include psoriatic arthritis, lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis.
How is rheumatoid arthritis different than other types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis? Do they have similarities?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune arthritis. It causes protective mechanisms in our body to instead attack certain structures, including the joints.
What is the cause of rheumatoid arthritis?
What Do Orthopedic Doctors Do
Due to their specialized training on the musculoskeletal system, they can treat any diseases or disorders that affect the joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Orthopedic surgeons are trained to evaluate the entire musculoskeletal system. Some orthopedic doctors may sometimes sub-specialize in one or two particular areas.
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Symptoms In The Joints
RA mostly affects the joints. But it can also cause problems in other parts of your body.
Joint pain can be an early symptom of many different diseases. In RA, symptoms often develop slowly over a period of weeks or months. Fatigue and stiffness are usually early symptoms. Weight loss and a low-grade fever can also occur.
Joint symptoms include:
- Pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints of the hands, wrists, elbows, feet, ankles, knees, or neck. The disease usually affects both sides of the body at the same time. In rare but severe cases, it may affect the eyes, lungs, heart, nerves, or blood vessels.
- Morning stiffness. Joint stiffness may develop after long periods of sleeping or sitting. It usually lasts at least 1 hour and often up to several hours.
- Bumps . Rheumatoid nodules ranging in size from a pea to a mothball form in nearly one-third of people who have RA. Nodules usually form over pressure points in the body such as the elbows, knuckles, spine, and lower leg bones.
What Do Rheumatology Doctors Do
Rheumatologists are experts in the treatment of inflammatory autoimmune disorders. These conditions, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, involve the patients immune system attacking its own healthy body tissue rather than invading external disease agents. Your primary care provider may refer you to a rheumatologist if you experience joint pain, especially if there was no prior injury. If your joint pain is accompanied by fatigue, fever, rash, or stiffness, it could also indicate an inflammatory disorder. Sometimes abnormal blood test results can also indicate a rheumatic illness.
What Conditions Does a Rheumatologist Treat?
Rheumatologists specialize in treating arthritis, musculoskeletal conditions, and autoimmune diseases. There are countless conditions that impact the joints, bones, ligaments, and various other tissues. It’s common for rheumatic conditions to be difficult to diagnose, so rheumatologists use their expertise to both diagnose and treat patients.
Here are a few common conditions that rheumatologists treat however, this list is certainly not comprehensive:
- And several more
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Family & Personal Medical History
The patients medical history and family history are important factors in helping to reach a RA diagnosis. Studies have shown that the average risk of someone in the general population developing RA is about 1%. However, if there is a family history of the disease, the risk of another family member developing RA increases.
When diagnosing RA doctors ask about the following:
- Patients family members who have or had RA
- Patients existing or past autoimmune disorders
- Patients family members with other autoimmune disorders
- Other medical conditions, illnesses or complications
Depending on each patients unique set of answers, it can help doctors identify factors that lead to a RA diagnosis.
What Is The Best Treatment For Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are a variety of treatment options to help manage your pain and improve your ability to perform routine activities. An orthopedic doctor can help determine which one is best for you.
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What Is The Difference Between Orthopedics And Rheumatology
If there is a significant crossover between the fields, what is the actual difference between them?
First of all, its important to note that, for some conditions, there is not a definite difference between them. For example, suppose you experience arthritis in a particular joint. In that case, both an orthopedics expert and a rheumatologist will likely offer you similar treatment.
But there are differences.
Early Intervention Is Essential For Strong Recovery
Hopefully, you now have a good idea of the primary differences between orthopedics and rheumatology, and also when you should be seeking the treatment of an orthopedic surgeon or a rheumatologist.
But the last thing to press home is that early intervention is absolutely critical to achieving the best possible outcomes, no matter what the underlying cause of your pain is. Because of the interconnectedness of the human body, damage suffered in one area can often lead to damage in others.
Also, even minor conditions can worsen, causing unnecessary wear and tear on the affected bones and muscles. So, by diagnosing the problem early and getting it treated, you can save yourself the trouble of needing more intensive treatment later on.
So, if you are experiencing pain and want to get treatment from an orthopedic surgeon in Hawaii, why not get in touch with us to set up a consultation today?
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When To See Your Doctor About Arthritis Pain
Pain, swelling, tenderness, and joint pain can be telltale signs of arthritis. HereÃ¢s when you should consider seeing a doctor for arthritis symptoms or joint discomfort.
Home treatment hasnÃ¢t helped. Minor aches and pains usually get better with ice or heat therapy or over-the-counter pain relievers. But if your symptoms donÃ¢t improve after about a week, it may be something more serious.
You have pain multiple joints.Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, can make several joints hurt. Quick treatment is important to prevent long-term damage.
Your joints hurt a lot. Your doctor should check out any severe pain so they can diagnose and treat it.
Pain doesnÃ¢t go away after rest. This can be a sign that your condition may be serious. You may need therapy, such as medications or even surgery.
Your joints turn red or hot. It may be normal for you to feel a bit stiff first thing in the morning. But if your symptoms appear suddenly or are unusual, have them checked out.
Pain and stiffness come on slowly. Symptoms that happen gradually could stem from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or another arthritic condition.
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Lab And Blood Tests For Ra
Here are some of the things you can expect to happen at your appointment if the doctor thinks you have RA.
Personal and family medical history: Your doctor will ask about your past and your relativesâ. If someone in your family tree has RA, you may be more likely to have the disease.
Physical exam: The doctor will check your joints for swelling, tenderness, and range of motion. RA tends to strike several joints.
Antibody blood tests: Doctors look for certain proteins that show up in your blood when you have RA. These proteins mistakenly target healthy cells and kick off the inflammation process. So a high or positive test result means inflammation is in your body.
- Rheumatoid factor : high levels
- Anti-CCP : high levels
- ANA, or antinuclear antibodies: the results are positive or negative
Not all people with RA have these proteins.
Other blood tests: Besides RF and anti-CCP, other blood tests could include:
Complete blood count: It helps your doctor find anemia , which is common in RA. It looks for four things:
- White blood cells 4.8-10.8
- Hematocrit 42-52
- Platelets 150-450
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate: This measures how fast your red blood cells clump and fall to the bottom of a glass tube within an hour. Your doctor might call it a sed rate.
Normal ranges are:
- Men younger than 50: 0-15 mm/h
- Men older than 50: 0-20 mm/h
- Women younger than 50: 0-20 mm/h
- Women older than 50: 0-30 mm/h
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The Difference Between A Rheumatologist And An Orthopedist
When suffering from debilitating joint pain, it can be confusing for patients to know whether they should schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist or an orthopedist. Typically, unless you have experienced a trauma to the body that requires a surgical treatment, you will want to schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist first. If caught early enough, a rheumatologist can use a variety of non-surgical treatment options, including medications, which can help with symptoms of inflammatory and systemic forms of arthritis.
Your rheumatologist will closely monitor your condition and its progression while you are on medication or trying other non-surgical treatments. If your symptoms continue to persist, you will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon to see if your condition would be best treated with surgery. Review the lists below to determine which specialist would best suit your needs.
How Can Orthopedic Doctors Help With Arthritis
Arthritis is defined primarily by joint inflammation, so this type of specialist will offer several treatment options. Mild to moderate cases of the disease may be alleviated with nonsurgical treatment. This often involves Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen. Physical therapy may be prescribed for strengthening, restoring motion or modalities like ultrasound, electrical stimulation or massage. Dietary and exercise plans aimed at encouraging weight loss may also be prescribed.
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Which Specialist Do I Need
While both rheumatologists and Southwest orthopedic specialists can treat joint-pain symptoms, it may be in the patients best interest to take a closer look at both options before deciding which specialist can best serve their needs. In cases where there is a family history of rheumatoid arthritis, for example, it would be perfectly logical and reasonable for a patient to seek out a consultation with a rheumatologist.
If, however, there is a family history of knee replacements and the patient is suffering from intractable knee pain, a better choice would be an Southwest orthopedic specialists. But how do you know which one makes the best sense for you?
Choosing a specialist does not mean you have made a permanent, unchangeable choice. If a patient seeking treatment from a rheumatologist does not improve with therapy, or as a patients condition progresses over time, there may be a need for some overlap in care from a rheumatologist to an orthopedic surgeon. In the beginning, however, the choice of which specialist to see will be primarily determined by the patients current and/or ongoing symptoms.
What Imaging Techniques May Be Used To Diagnose Arthritis
Imaging techniques may give your healthcare provider a clearer picture of what is happening to your joint. Imaging techniques may include the following:
X-ray. X-rays may show joint changes and bone damage found in some types of arthritis. Other imaging tests may also be done.
Ultrasound. Ultrasound uses sound waves to see the quality of synovial tissue, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
Magnetic resonance imaging . MRI images are more detailed than X-rays. They may show damage to joints, including muscles, ligaments, and cartilage.
Arthroscopy. This procedure uses a thin tube containing a light and camera to look inside the joint. The arthroscope is inserted into the joint through a small incision. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen. It is used to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joint to detect bone diseases and tumors to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation, and to treat certain conditions.
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Medication For Rheumatoid Arthritis
RA medication aims to ease joint pain, inflammation, and swelling. These medications include:
- OTC anti-inflammatory painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and Tylenol
- Pain reliever lotions and serums
- Narcotic pain relievers
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs these are strong medications that interfere with the immune systems attack on the joints
Why Our Doctors Are The Right Choice For Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
All of our doctors at our Austin, TX, practice are board-certified and fellowship-trained. Each one specializes in their specific area of focus. While generalists may only perform two joint-specific surgeries a year, ours perform several in one day. It is our mission to utilize the latest orthopaedic technology to provide the least invasive care possible while still maintaining effective results and rapid recovery. When you visit our Austin, TX, practice, you can be sure you are getting top-quality care. If you are tired of living in pain, call our Austin, TX, office to schedule your rheumatoid arthritis consultation.
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What Does An Orthopedist Do
Orthopedists handle the disorders, injuries, prevention, treatment, and repair of the skeletal system and its related joints, ligaments, and muscles.
Orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of bone and joint disease. They use an array of testing modalities to aid in diagnosis and treatment.
Dont Let Docs Write You Off Because Of Your Age
Psoriatic Arthritis Can be Tricky to Diagnose â Dr. Sadia Khan â Mercy
Too many people hear arthritis and automatically think 80-year-old and that includes some doctors, unfortunately. It took me 10 years because of my age and lack of inflammatory markers, says Joy G., now 30, of Ireland. All my joints were swelling, I couldnt walk properly, my hips were twisted, and yet because my blood test was negative and I was so young, they kept telling me its couldnt be arthritis. When she learned that seronegative arthritis definitely does exist, she insisted on getting a referral to a rheumatologist. He diagnosed her with psoriatic arthritis on the second visit.
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Schedule Your Visit With A Rheumatologist Or Orthopedist In Illinois Today
Whether youre in need of a surgical or non-surgical treatment option for your joint disorder, the physicians at Illinois Bone & Joint Institute can help improve your quality of life. We have many locations throughout Illinois for your convenience. Not sure which specialist you should schedule your appointment with? Contact us today and we will recommend who we believe the best physician is to suit your needs.
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