Approximately 50 million people in the United States have arthritis. 27 million cases are attributed to osteoarthritis and 1.3 million are cases of rheumatoid arthritis. Although often mistaken as the same thing by those that are unaware there are different forms of arthritis, they are very much different.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that affects a person’s joints. It can attack at any age, usually between the ages of 30 and 50, unexpectedly, and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue. Other symptoms include fever, swelling, muscle pain and inflammation that can cause heart, lung, and eye damage. RA can also occur in children. Don’t confuse RA with osteoarthritis if you are talking to a 35 year old with this disease. It is not that same arthritis that is found in seniors.
In contrast, osteoarthritis occurs most commonly in older individuals and is caused by wear on the joints due to constant use. Over time cartilage wears away and causes bone to rub on bone, causing pain. It is often treated with drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen (Aleve) or steroid injections. Treatment for Rheumatoid arthritis is more intense with the use of oral steroids and drugs that are similar to that used in chemotherapy.
Aside from the age of onset and symptoms, another way to tell the difference is the location of the pain. RA usually occurs in smaller joints, like the wrist and toes, and can spread to as many as 30 joints. Osteoarthritis attacks larger joints that bear a lot of weight, such as hips and knees.
In either case, after a prolonged period of time, some individuals may find they have extensive joint damage that affects their day to day function. The ability to walk, climb stairs, kneel, and perform personal hygiene tasks, like bathing, shaving or doing their hair can be challenging. When trouble with daily routines sets in is can helpful to have another set of hands, or legs, around for support.
New Hampshire home care agencies, like MAS Home Care, can be a blessing. Because not everyone is affected in the same way, it is nice to be able to find care that can be tailored to you. At the same time, you are still able to maintain your independence.
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