We commonly hear the word “arthritis” pop up when we experience ongoing pain, especially as we get older, but what does this mean?
There are many different types of arthritis but the 3 main classifications that we will focus on here are Osteoarthritis (OA), Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Gout. The underlying cause of the 3 different types are quite different. We have outlined it below in the table to help make sense of them and help to differentiate them from each other:
|Causes||Trauma, weight gain, overexertion, repetitive movements. Mechanical wear and tear||An autoimmune disease where the body starts attacking its own joints. There have been links shown to genetics, hormones and environmental factors but their full role is not fully understood yet||An inflammatory arthritis that occurs due to high levels of uric acid in the blood that deposits in the joints, forming crystals that affect the mechanics and cause pain. The uric acid is produced when the body breaks down purines (a chemical compound found in certain foods)
|Symptoms||Pain, swelling, stiffness. Typically affects large joints and is worse first thing in the morning or after periods of rest||Pain, fatigues, loss of appetite and a low grade fever. Typically affects small joints, more than one at a time and often both sides of the body are affected concurrently. Symptoms tend to come and go, depending on the level of inflammation present in the body at the time||It typically presents with sudden onsets of pain, warmth, swelling and redness in the area affected.
|Diagnosis||Clinical history and evaluation, xrays||Clinical history and evaluation, blood tests, xrays||Clinical history and evaluation, xrays, blood tests, joint fluid test|
|Treatment||Weight management, activity modification, strengthening to correct biomechanics, pain management with medication, surgery||There are different drugs used for the management of RA and it is very patient dependant. The primary aim is to reduce inflammation, and control the process of the disease through DMARDS (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs), biologics, JAK inhibitors. Joint replacements are a last resort in severe cases to improve pain and restore function.
|Lifestyle modification to avoid food and drinks that trigger attacks. Anti-inflammatories, icing, and staying hydrated during acute attacks to reduce the duration. Chronic gout is often treated with drugs known as colchicine