Monday, June 15, 2009

The Difference Between Osteoarthtitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is the difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Sometimes, you can show how much you care by disclosing what you know. But, other times, you can show how much you care by acknowledging what you don’t know.

A good friend asked me this week to explain the difference between RA and OA. I was really impressed with her. It took courage to admit she that did not know. Do you know how many people have asked me that? She is the first one.
How many people do I hear ask, “What is Rheumatoid Arthritis anyway?” Very, very few. They usually don’t already know. So, I wonder why not.

Anyway, that is the hand we’re dealt. So here is my short answer:

Think of Osteoarthritis like rust. If you have a favorite tool and you use it a lot, it can start to get rusty and worn. That’s OA. You can sometimes clean it up with chemicals or a salt scrub. That’s like getting arthroscopic surgery done to clean up a knee.

Who does OA strike? Anyone who has used a joint excessively: mainly that means old people and athletes.

RA is more complicated. It would be a bit more like leaving a brand new tool in a bucket of battery acid overnight. It is suddenly ruined. You better buy a new one.

That is the sudden destruction and disability of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Joints and their supporting tissues are suddenly destroyed and left disabled. Little holes in the bone called erosions tell the story of some erosive substance which has eaten away the flesh.

The joints cannot be cleaned out on an outpatient visit. Frequently, joints must just be replaced.

Where does RA strike? Joints, organs, nerves, muscles, tendons, and bones in children, women, and men of all ages, but most frequently between 30 and 50.

Thank you to my friend for asking that very basic question. I am grateful that she gave me permission to share, so I tried to give a simple answer. With a short answer, perhaps more folks will be able to understand.

For a more complete answer, stay tuned to Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior. I know that my friend will because she cares. I know she cares because she told me what she did not know.


Angie said...

great post kelly! thanks for sharing it! i think we all have had a lot of "knowledgeless" comments come our way. i'm glad your friend asked. glad you're on facebook! a friend of mine became a fan of your page. angie

Kelly Young said...

Thanks, Ang!
It's fun. Hope we can attract a lot of non-RAers, too!!

Noelle said...

Wow, Kelly. What a fantastic post. You have such a talent for composing and explaining information that we all can use (as education for ourselves, and to educate others who do not have RA). Thank you so much. Noelle

Kelly Young said...

Thanks, Noelle.
Wish we could get everyone to read it!

andrew said...

So it's battery acid in my joints. Now I know why they hurt so much! :)

Thanks for the short, easy to understand description. You're correct, most people lump all arthrides together.


Kelly Young said...

yep, you better see a mechanic...

Kidding - haha - word picture of course. :D

Unknown said...

Question-- can a person have RA withour OA? I have both.

Kelly Young said...

Good question, Dazey girl. :D