Is It Really Arthritis?


Arthritis is a common ailment that haunts many men as they reach their middle age. The unbearable aches, pains, and twinges in the joints leave them almost incapacitated. Sometimes, the pain is so excruciating that the person is unable to walk a few meters. Worst of all, the thoughts of being virtually immobilized due to the pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints make the person suffering from Arthritis furious and frustrated.

Usually, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in people over age 55. The word arthritis is derived from the Greek word arthron which means ‘joint’ and the Latin word ‘itis’ which means “inflammation”. The plural of arthritis is arthritides. Arthritis affects the musculoskeletal system, especially, joints or knees, also called knee arthritis. Although Arthritis is associated with the pain related to joints and bones, there are various types of arthritis.

There are several causes of arthritis with its own set of symptoms. For example, knee arthritis exhibits its own symptoms called knee arthritis symptoms, and rheumatoid arthritis shows its own symptoms known as rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. However among all, the most common are osteoarthritis (OA) which is caused by wear and tear, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an immune disorder.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes chronic inflammation of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause inflammation of the tissue around the joints and other organs in the body.

Besides, in certain cases, pain may not be owing to osteoarthritis (OA) nor due to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but owing to a distant relative in the arthritis family. It is also possible that arthritis may not be the cause for the pain. In such cases, it becomes difficult to distinguish between real arthritis and normal pain.

Is it arthritis or tendinitis?

Tendonitis is the inflammation and irritation of these tendons. Tendonitis occurs due to the overuse of the joints; especially, the shoulders, elbows (tennis elbow), knees, hips, wrists, heels, etc. Both arthritis and tendinitis show similar symptoms of pain that aggravate with overuse. The swelling both conditions produce makes the affected area tender and painful to move.

How they are different?

Any injury to the tendons, tough cords of tissue that connect muscles and bones cause tendonitis. The pain due to tendonitis spreads over a wider area than arthritis, which is limited to the joint. Also, tendonitis heals quickly with simple treatments such as rest, ice, pain medication, and physical therapy. Arthritis doesn’t go away with treatment or time as it is a chronic condition.

Is it arthritis — or carpal tunnel syndrome?

Osteoarthritis is one of the common forms of arthritis which causes pain, swelling and reduced motion in joints. It could affect any joints; particularly of hands, knees, hips or spine.

Factors that may cause osteoarthritis are as follows:

  • Getting older
  • Being overweight
  • Injuring a joint

Ways to overcome osteoarthritis are doing exercise daily, weight control, rest, pain relief, alternative therapies and surgery.

Covered by the bones and other tissues of the wrist, carpal tunnel is a narrow tunnel which protects the median nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome leads to the inflammation or swelling of other tissues in the carpal tunnel, such as ligaments and tendons, affecting the median nerve. Thus any kind of pressure can make part of the hand painful.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs in the midlife years of 45 to 55 at the same time as osteoarthritis. If the passageway constricts, it narrows a key nerve called the median nerve, and the result is burning pain, tingling, and numbness.

Both CTS and osteoarthritis result owing to the monotonous work which involves activity, such as typing or hobbies. In other words, activity such as typing which puts constant pressure on the fingers and hands may cause carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

How they’re different?

Compared to osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel pain develops gradually but tends to produce more pain. Diagnoses for carpal tunnel syndrome are using simple tests such as bending the wrist and noting the time for a tingling sensation to appear.

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