How Is Knee Arthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor may use some of the following diagnostic tests and procedures to determine if you have knee arthritis:
- Medical history and physical examination
- Blood tests for genetic markers or RA antibodies
- X-rays to determine cartilage loss in the knee
- Joint aspiration: drawing out and testing the synovial fluid inside the knee joint
Cartilage cannot be seen on X-ray, but narrowing of the joint space between the bones indicates lost cartilage. X-rays show bone spurs and cysts, which can be caused by osteoarthritis. Other tests such as MRI or CT scans are rarely needed for diagnosis.
Ra Vs Oa: Clinical Manifestations
RA symptoms have a rather rapid onset where the condition can worsen in a matter of weeks. On the other hand, OA symptoms slowly develop and gradually worsen over a long period of time.
RA symptoms affect joints all the over the body including hands, fingers, elbows, knees, and hips. Meanwhile, OA frequently affects the small finger joints and thumb, as well as the knees. RA always affects multiple joints on both sides of the body, whereas OA may only affect one particular joint or area of the body.
At the onset of RA, symptoms like fatigue, fever, weight loss, and loss of appetite are indicative of the diseases development. OA doesnt produce these types of systemic symptoms as it is considered a local disease.
RA commonly produces symmetrical symptoms, meaning both sides of the body are affected similarly. OA is based entirely on wear and tear of individual joints.
RA causes prolonged morning stiffness lasting greater than 30 minutes. OA patients may feel morning stiffness, but it generally subsides within the first 30 minutes.
Here is a summary comparison between RA and OA symptoms:
- Joint pain, stiffness, swelling affecting multiple joints
- Symmetrical symptoms affecting both sides of the body
- Morning stiffness lasting longer than 30 minutes
- Systemic symptoms like fatigue, fever, and malaise
Is Chronic Inflammatory Arthritis The Same As Rheumatoid Arthritis
Q) Im 63 and have suffered from osteoarthritis for around 10 years. Ive recently been diagnosed with chronic inflammatory arthritis, at which time my consultant also used the words rheumatoid arthritis. Although the blood markers were negative, which he said applied to around 30 per cent of sufferers, an MRI showed inflammation and degeneration around the joints of my hands. Hes prescribed methotrexate and folic acid. Are these conditions the same? Id like to refer to my condition correctly.
Nigel, Horsham, East Sussex 2011
This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell in 2011, and was correct at the time of publication.
You May Like: What Arthritis Mean
Don’t Miss: Sudden Arthritis Pain
The Pain Of These Two Conditions Affects More Than Just The Joints
As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis has side effects beyond joint pain. To start, the same underlying inflammation that damages the joints can affect organs and systems throughout the body, causing an increased risk of heart disease, lung disease, and more.
Certain medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis can affect kidney and liver function. RA and the medications that treat it also make me immunocompromised, which makes fighting infections more difficult.
The pain and mobility limitations of OA also take a toll on people. OA can cause sleep issues, for example, and social limitations. OA can force people to give up their favorite activities or need to stop working. And while OA doesnt necessarily cause these conditions, there are a number of co-occurring health problems that are common in OA patients and could affect how it is able to be treated, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
What To Do If You Suspect You Have Osteoarthritis Or Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you suspect that you are affected by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you should visit your primary care physician or a rheumatologist. OA and RA are clinical diagnoses that are made by a doctor or physiotherapist. A clinical diagnosis means that the diagnosis is mainly made based on the patients typical medical history. Blood tests and X-rays are typically only used to confirm the diagnosis.
Don’t Miss: Stiff Hands Treatment
Joint Pain Onset: What Did You Notice First
RA It may be first noticed as tenderness and pain. If it lasts more than six weeks then you definitely want to seek medical care. If you have sudden onset of pain, redness, and swelling, this should be addressed right away. Often, the small joints in the hands and feet are affected first and equally on both sides.
RA is an autoimmune disease with inflammation. Many people experience fatigue and low-grade fevers. At times the fatigue may be one of the first things that a patient notices, either before or along with the joint pain. Some of the symptoms can wax and wane, including flares.
OA Osteoarthritis was long believed to be caused by the wearing down of joints over time. But scientists now see it as a disease of the entire joint, involving the cartilage, joint lining , ligaments, and bone. OA is a common joint disease that affects from middle-aged to elderly people, women more than men. OA joint pain can build up gradually over time. However, it can become worse after use for example, after a hike.
A Comparison Of Risk Factors For Osteo
Both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis increase with age.
Osteoarthritis is more common in whites, but rheumatoid arthritis is in blacks.
Obesity and female sex increase risk of risk of both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis.
Smoking increases risk of both forms of arthritis in women.
These two forms of arthritis have many common risk factors.
Don’t Miss: Signs Of Arthritis In Legs
What Is The Most Painful Type Of Arthritis
In general, rheumatoid arthritis is more painful than osteoarthritis. RA is more painful for a few reasons including the fact that it presents more symptoms, affects more joints simultaneously and often lasts longer throughout the day.
The most common symptoms of both RA and OA include painful, stiff joints, limited range of motion, warmth and tenderness in affected joints and more intense pain in the morning. However, RA presents additional symptoms apart from OA including fevers, muscle aches and excessive fatigue.
These additional symptoms suggest that RA is more painful since you’re experiencing more overall discomfort.
RA also affects more joints than the average case of OA. Since RA is an autoimmune disease that attacks the cells that make up your joints, it often begins in your smaller joints and eventually begins to effects all of the joints of your body.
On the other hand, OA tends only to affect a few isolated joints that are overused or injured. While OA can certainly progress to affect most of your joints, especially as you age, it’s estimated that RA is more painful overall since most of your joints will be affected.
And lastly, although both RA and OA symptoms are more intense in the morning before your joints get a chance to loosen up, OA symptoms tend to improve within 30 minutes whereas RA symptoms tend to take longer to feel better. This is a third reason why it’s assumed that RA is more painful than OA.
Can You Have Both Ra And Oa
Yes, its possible to have both RA and OA.
While OA usually develops after years of wear and tear on cartilage, people with RA may have it earlier in life due to causes such as sports injuries that result in damage to the cartilage, joints, or ligaments.
People with RA may also develop OA as they get older.
People older than 65 who may have OA can also develop a condition called . Unlike RA, EORA more frequently affects large joints.
You May Like: What Can You Take For Arthritis In Your Fingers
What Other Treatments Can Help Pain Caused By Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis
Q) I’m getting desperate. I suffer from both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. My greatest problem is osteoarthritis in my cervical spine. For about five years I’ve been in constant pain, night and day. My rheumatologist can only suggest exercises, heat, a collar and painkillers , all to little effect. I heard of someone who has Botox injections three times a month, which brings great relief. Could you advise me on this or any other treatment you think would be successful? I’m reaching the end of my tether.
Patricia, Altrincham, Cheshire – 2011
A) I’m sorry to hear about this. Constant pain in the neck is one of the worst types of pain and I know from personal experience how disabling it can be. I’ve given Botox injections for neck conditions, but only if significant muscle spasm is present this is sometimes referred to as spasmodic torticollis. Botox works by paralysing the muscles. It’s a drug derived from the bacteria that cause botulism, where widespread muscle paralysis can occur. It sounds worse than it is and these injections have now been introduced widely in medicine. You’ve probably heard of their use in plastic surgery. The paralysis isn’t permanent, but can last for a good while. Often the injections have to be repeated to maintain their benefit. In your case, it would be advisable to seek an opinion from someone who administers these treatments. Other injections, such as selective nerve blocks, are also a possibility.
Difference Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are several different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the most common forms. Although the symptoms of these two types of arthritis can be similar, it’s very important to distinguish between them in order to determine the proper treatment.
At the University of Michigan Health System, our experienced rheumatologists will do appropriate tests to determine which type of arthritis you have. Then we will develop an effective treatment plan and will explain your options.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the smooth cartilage joint surface wears out. Osteoarthritis usually begins in an isolated joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system malfunctions and attacks the body instead of intruders. In this case, it attacks the synovial membrane that encases and protects the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis often targets several joints at one time. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- the symmetrical nature of the disease ,
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Arthritis In Fingers
Characteristics Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can happen at any point in a persons life and affects the entire body. With RA, patients typically experience a rapid onset of symptomsincluding painful, swollen, and stiff jointsin as little as a few weeks to a few months. Additionally, those living with RA experience morning stiffness that typically lasts longer than 1 hour, and fatigue and a feeling of being ill are commonly present. RA is often a symmetrical type of arthritis, which means it affects both small and large jointsincluding hands, wrists, elbows, or balls of the feeton both sides of the body simultaneously.
Anyone affected by rheumatoid arthritis has chronic inflammation in their joints, which means that the whole joint is breaking down. Therefore, rheumatoid arthritis does not only affect the cartilage. With RA, the joints then become swollen and tender, which is known as synovitis. The continuous pain, which is present both at rest and during exertion, may be so intense that anyone affected is prevented from carrying out simple everyday tasks. Anything from getting out of bed to brushing teeth can be difficult to do. Additionally, it is common for those living with RA to feel tired and depressed.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Vs Osteoarthritis
The first step in finding relief from joint pain, swelling, and stiffness is working with your doctor to determine if you could be having symptoms of certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis . The sooner you know, the sooner you can begin treatment and find relief from your symptoms.
Weve put together a quick guide to help you understand the differences between RA and OA. While RA and OA can both lead to joint pain and stiffness, there are important differences that can help you have a conversation with your doctor to assist in identifying which type of arthritis you might haveand ultimatelyhow to treat it. Use the chart below to learn more about RA and OA.
You May Like: Can You Get Rid Of Arthritis
Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Make Colds Worse
Q) I suffer from mild rheumatoid arthritis which fortunately doesn’t stop me from doing anything I did before. But I’ve noticed that when I catch a cold, it seems to be worse than before I was diagnosed. Is this me being ultra-sensitive to my body or does rheumatoid arthritis actually make common ailments worse?
Roena, via email – 2015
A) With rheumatoid arthritis, you have what could be described as an overactive, but misdirected, immune system. It’s doing its job, but in the wrong places against your own body, rather than materials from outside your body that might be a threat to health.
It’s true that people with rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to infections and, as you describe, it possibly makes minor infections worse. This is partly due to your immune system not working properly and also because of the effects of the drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, which work by damping down the immune system.
One of the most important things you can do is get a flu jab each year and a pneumococcal vaccine to help stop you picking up flu, which is the most common cause of pneumonia. These are both ‘inactivated’ vaccines, so are safe for people with rheumatoid arthritis. You can read more about this in our vaccination and arthritis information.
This answer was provided by Dr Tom Margham in 2015, and was correct at the time of publication.
How Do I Know If I Have Oa Or Ra
If you have joint pain, the best thing to do is see a healthcare provider. They can help figure out whats going on. Its helpful to know about any medical problems you or your family have, because autoimmune diseases tend to run in the family. A physical exam is also important, followed by X-rays .
You May Like: Rheumatoid Arthritis One Side Of Body
It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
Their differences begin with what causes them. Osteoarthritis is more commonly occurs later in life, after years of mechanical wear and tear on the cartilage which lines and cushions your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, which can occur at most any age, is anautoimmune disease. That is, your body’s immune system attacks your joints.
Dr. Michael Raab explains the differences of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.
What is arthritis?
Here are other important things to know about the key differences between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Research On Rheumatoid Arthritis
In the last decade, much research has been conducted to increase our understanding of the immune system and what makes it malfunction. There have also been new therapies developed to help treat the disease. Some of the topics of intense research include:
What are the genetic factors that predispose people to develop rheumatoid arthritis?
Some white blood cells, commonly known as T cells, are important in maintaining a healthy and properly functioning immune system. However, scientists have discovered a variationcalled single nucleotide polymorphism in a gene that controls T cells. When the SNP gene variation is present, T cells attempt to correct abnormalities in joints too quickly, causing the inflammation and tissue damage associated with RA. The discovery of SNP may help determine peoples risk for getting RA and might help explain why autoimmune diseases run in families.
At conception, twins have an identical set of genes. So why would only one twin develop RA?
Read Also: Are Eggs Bad For Arthritis
Does Immunoglobulin Help Keep Osetoarthritis At Bay
Q) I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my spine about 15 years ago. In 2000, I had Guillain-Barre syndrome and was treated with immunoglobulin. For many years my symptoms improved I’m wondering if the immunoglobulin helped to keep the osteoarthritis at bay and if it’s known that it does, why it isnt offered as a treatment?
A) Immunoglobulin is used for various rheumatic diseases. Generally it’s used for the connective tissue diseases, such as lupus, dermatomyositis and sometimes as emergency treatment where drugs which suppress the immune system can’t be used. It’s not known exactly how it works but it’s probably by several different mechanisms acting on the immune cells which are causing the problem. Although low-grade inflammation is seen in most joints affected by osteoarthritis it is, on the whole, a non-inflammatory problem and immunosuppressive drugs are seldom used. However, some people with osteoarthritis feel improved when they take drugs such as steroids and I think it’s for a similar reason that you felt better after these drugs. I’m assuming, however, that steroids weren’t part of your treatment regime when you had Guillain-Barre syndrome.
This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell in 2011, and was correct at the time of publication.
What Is Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most commonly occurring type of arthritis. Currently, nearly 30 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis. What occurs is that cartilage that is capping your bones where your joints are located wears away. There is a special membrane that is lubricating and protecting your joints, called synovial. When this membrane experiences inflammation, you start to feel pain and swelling in your joints. Osteoarthritis can also lead to joint erosion.
A major difference between OA and RA is that someone with osteoarthritis will have symptoms that are localized to their joints. Additionally, there will be lumps underneath the skin near the joints, which is similar to what sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis experience. However, the difference is that these lumps in people with OA are bone spurs, rather than tender nodules.
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, pain is not felt symmetrically. You may experience pain in your left knee, but not in the right one. Another common experience is that you feel pain in joints on both sides of your body, but one side will give you more pain than the other. People with OA will usually feel pain in their hands, fingers, spine, hips, and knees.
Don’t Miss: How Painful Is Ra