Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Because early rheumatoid arthritis and OA (see Chapter 4) are both common entities, the family physician must often differentiate between them. With RA a predominant early symptom is morning stiffness, whereas with OA pain increases through the day and with use. Joints are symmetrically involved in RA and are usually, in order of frequency, MCPs, wrists, and PIPs; DIPs are almost never affected. OA is often less symmetric and involves weight-bearing joints (hips, knees) and DIPs. Soft tissue swelling and warmth strongly suggest RA, as do periarticular osteopenia and marginal erosions on plain films. OA patients often have bony osteophytes on physical examination or radiography more commonly than soft tissue swelling. Laboratory findings in OA are normal, whereas RA patients often have elevated ESR, RF, CRP, CH50, C3, and C4, as well as anemia, eosinophilia, and thrombocytosis.



Thank you for deciding to learn more about the disorder, Osteoarthritis. Inside these pages, you will learn what it is, who is most at risk for developing it, what causes it, and some treatment plans to help those that do have it feel better. While there is no definitive “cure” for Osteoarthritis, there are ways in which individuals can improve their quality of life and change the discomfort level to one that can be tolerated on a daily basis.

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