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Osteoarthritis versus Rheumatoid Arthritis: What's the difference?

Olympic gold isn't the only thing that Bruce Jenner, Dorothy Hammill, and Bart Connor have in common: they also have osteoarthritis.  The term "arthritis" simply refers to any inflammation of the joints. According to rheumatologist Dr. Nayan Kothari from NJ,

"Actually there are many varieties of arthritis, approximately 150 varieties have been described, with the most common being the osteoarthritis and the rheumatoid arthritis".

Osteoarthritis develops when cartilage starts to break down, as a result of aging, trauma, or increased wear and tear.  The most commonly affected joints are the hips, knees, lower spine, and hands.  Hand involvement is particularly common in women and can begin in the 20's.  This is progressive and causes classic deformities of the fingers with enlarged joints.

Osteoarthritis should not be confused with "osteoporosis", which causes low bone mass and increased fractures.  Many menopausal women have both.  Certain types of arthritis--or medications used to treat arthritis--may  also increase your risk of osteoporosis.

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Created: 12/6/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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