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  • Dr. Melyssa Hoitink, ND

Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis: What's the difference?

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Did you know there are different types of arthritis?

In fact, there are more than 100 different types... 🤯! Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis are two of the more common types of arthritis. If you suffer from arthritis, it is important to know which type you have, as causes and treatment options differ significantly between the different types.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis is sometimes thought of as the "arthritis of old age", even though it does occur in young people too. Common joints affected are the hands, feet, hips, knees, and spine. Osteoarthritis typically occurs on one side (for example, arthritis in the right knee, but not the left knee), but can occur on both sides. This type of arthritis occurs because of abnormal wear and tear on the joints (excess weight, previous injury, joint malalignment, etc.) leading to breakdown of the joint cartilage (the tissue that protects bone from rubbing on bone when we move). When the protective cartilage layer begins to break down, inflammation is generated in the joint leading to pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced ability to move the joint. Naturopathic treatment options typically involve different combinations of dietary changes to limit overall inflammation and remove pain triggering foods, supplements to reduce joint inflammation and help to repair joint cartilage, herbal support to reduce inflammation and pain, exercises to strengthen muscles supporting the involved joint and continue to nourish the affected joint, acupuncture to reduce pain and encourage healing, and topical options to reduce pain.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition in which the body's immune system inaccurately identifies joint cartilage as a "foreign invader" and destroys it. In contrast to Osteoarthritis, RA typically occurs on both sides of the body (for example, both hands are affected). Symptoms include swelling, redness, and a feeling of heat in the affected joints. Any joint can be affected by RA, but most commonly involved joints are the hands, wrists, and feet. Some people also experience symptoms in their eyes, heart, lungs, skin, and blood vessels associated with Rheumatoid arthritis. RA is usually diagnosed using blood tests. Naturopathic treatment options for RA involve calming the immune system and preventing it from reacting to the body's own tissues. This may involve investigation of possible food sensitivities, anti-inflammatory and immune modulating supplements and herbs, acupuncture, and topical anti-inflammatory treatments.

Regardless of the type of arthritis, Naturopathic medicine offers many treatment options for pain relief, restoring joint structure and mobility. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a message or schedule a Complementary Discovery Session. I'd be happy to answer them!


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