What are the differences between arthritis and osteoarthritis?

There are several diseases that affect the body’s joints. Commonly, arthritis and osteoarthritis are spoken of interchangeably, but is it the same disease? In this article you will get the answer.

Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis.

In general, we call arthritis the inflammatory type process, which has multiple causes, while Osteoarthritis is the process of wear and tear of the joint.

Despite the fact that the main symptom in both cases is joint pain or arthralgia, we see that there is a difference in the causes of Arthritis and Osteoarthritis, and this is very important because the treatment approach is different in both cases.

Your doctor is trained to do the clinical tests and complementary exams that allow you to establish the differences and apply the most appropriate treatment to each particular case.

What is osteoarthritis?

  • It affects the elderly, usually over 60 years of age.
  • It is one of the leading causes of disability in the world. About 1 in 30 people globally has a disability related to Osteoarthritis.

Definition and causes of Osteoarthritis.

  • It occurs due to a process of wear and tear medically called the degenerative process of the cartilage of the joints. In this entity, the cartilage in the joints loses its elasticity, decreases in size and becomes less smooth. In the degenerative process, the synovium also deteriorates and begins to produce a less viscous and effective synovial fluid, which contributes to the general deterioration of the joint.
  • It is always a chronic disease; it progresses over a long time.
  • It is also known as Osteoarthrosis and is considered a type of Arthritis.


  • Clinically manifests with pain in the joints or joints.
  • There are no laboratory tests to aid diagnosis.
  • Radiological and tomographic images of the affected joints are very useful for diagnosis.


  • Local treatments:
    • Physiotherapy or physical therapy is usually very useful in most cases, achieving improvement in joint pain for long periods of time, reducing the consumption of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs, as well as improving the quality of life.
  • Alternative therapies: massage therapy, acupuncture, among others.
  • Pharmacological treatments.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): these are widely used drugs, due to their rapid analgesic action. The main problem lies in the frequent side effects: such as high blood pressure, gastritis, gastric, esophageal and duodenal ulcers; as well as gastrointestinal bleeding complications and kidney damage.
  • Newer anti-inflammatories, such as celecoxib, have fewer side effects than NSAIDs, but are also not permanently recommended.
  • Glucosamine with chondroitin: can be useful in many cases, there are many large scientific papers that reveal controversial results, but most agree on the benefit in the relief of joint pain.


  • Avoiding both sedentary lifestyles, doing light exercise and according to the age and clinical condition of each person, allows to maintain muscle tone and cardiovascular function.
  • Similarly, excessive physical activity can become a problem if not done correctly and with proper professional supervision.
  • Low impact sports are recommended, such as water sports, yoga, Pilates, tai chi.
  • Wear suitable and comfortable footwear, especially if you are going to take long walks.
  • Adequate rest: use a comfortable bed and maintain good posture.
  • Avoid excess body weight.
  • Avoid carrying excessive weights, pulling heavy furniture, carrying grocery bags. Find alternatives that avoid joint overload.
  • The use of heat in the joints is recommended in these cases: take baths with lukewarm water or the use of fomenters or hot water bottles in affected areas.

What is arthritis?

People of different ages, from childhood and even young individuals under 40 years of age.


  • It is the inflammation of the joint structures, due to various causes. Although the degeneration factor that causes Osteoarthritis is one of them, in the case of Arthritis, a large group of diseases that affect different organs, including the joints, are included.
  • Cause is unknown, immunological, hereditary and environmental factors are involved, without the exact origin being discovered.
  • Among the Arthritis we find: rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile arthritis and several polyarticular syndromes: lupus associated arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, among others.


  • Symptoms: joint pain and edema with local heat in the affected joint (s). Many joints are often affected at the same time.
  • Joint stiffness.
  • Laboratory tests allow the diagnosis of the type of arthritis.


  • Anti-inflammatories can be used with caution due to their side effects.
  • Steroids, in many cases are necessary under strict medical supervision.
  • Immunomodulating agents: therapies that attenuate the action of the immune system and lower inflammation: cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, gold salts, and others.


  • There are few preventive measures in these cases. There are no predisposing factors.
  • Maintain good body weight.
  • Avoid sedentary lifestyle, bad posture and exercise or extreme joint efforts.

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