Arthrosis vs. Arthritis: What’s the Difference?

Written by Kimberly Holland | Published on February 4, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on February 4, 2014

Arthrosis vs. Arthritis: What’s the Difference?

Arthritis and arthrosis sound very similar, and the two conditions have several things in common. They both affect your bones, ligaments, and joints. They also share many of the same symptoms, including joint stiffness and pain. However, the difference between the two is important.

Click next to learn the distinction between arthrosis and arthritis, how they’re diagnosed, and what to ask when you’re talking to your doctor.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe several types of arthritis that all cause inflammation in the joints. In some cases, arthritis also can affect your skin, organs, and muscles.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one type of arthritis. RA attacks the synovial membranes that surround your joints. It causes the membrane to become inflamed and swollen. Over time, RA destroys the membrane, cartilage on the ends of your bones, and possibly the bone.

What Is Arthrosis?

Arthrosis is another name for osteoarthritis (OA). OA is the most common type of arthritis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Arthrosis is caused by normal wear and tear on your joints and cartilage. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones and helps joints move smoothly. Eventually, the cartilage may disappear completely, and your joint may have bone-to-bone contact.

Arthrosis is most common in the joints of your hands, neck, knees, and hips. However, it can affect any joint.

What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis

The symptoms you’re likely to experience depend on the type of arthritis you have. Joint pain and stiffness are the two most common symptoms of arthritis. Though each type of arthritis has several unique symptoms, most share similar symptoms. That can make determining which type of arthritis you have more difficult.

Other common symptoms of all types of inflammation-induced arthritis include:

  • swelling in joints
  • redness of skin around affected joints
  • reduced range of motion in affected joints

What Are the Symptoms of Arthrosis?

Some symptoms of arthrosis are very similar to other types of arthritis. However, a few symptoms set arthrosis apart from other forms of arthritis.

The most common symptoms of arthrosis include:

  • joint pain
  • joint stiffness
  • tenderness around affected joints
  • reduced flexibility in affected joints
  • bone-to-bone grating or rubbing
  • bone spurs (small bits of extra bone growth around affected joints)

What Are the Risk Factors for Arthritis?

According to Mayo Clinic, risk factors for arthritis include:

  • Age. Several types of arthritis are more common in older people.
  • Gender. Women are more likely to develop RA than men are. However, men are more likely to develop gout.
  • Genes. You’re more likely to develop some types of arthritis if a family member has it.
  • Weight. Extra weight causes extra pressure on your joints, so people who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop arthritis.
  • Injury. Accidents and infections can damage your joints. These affected joints are more likely to develop arthritis than joints without previous damage.

What Are the Risk Factors for Arthrosis?

According to Mayo Clinic, risk factors for arthrosis include:

  • Age. The older you are, the higher your risk.
  • Gender. Women have a higher risk of developing arthrosis.
  • Weight. People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of joint damage because of the pressure extra weight puts on joints.
  • Injury. Infection or accidents can damage your joint and increase your risk.
  • Joint deformities. Uneven joints or malformed cartilage can increase your risk for arthrosis.
  • Occupation. A job that requires you to put constant stress on specific joints can increase your risk.

How Are the Two Conditions Diagnosed?

To diagnose any type of arthritis, your doctor may conduct several tests. These tests may include:

  • full physical exam
  • imaging tests, including X-ray or MRI
  • blood tests to check for inflammation markers and infection
  • a joint fluid test: the fluid around your joint may indicate exactly what type of arthritis you have
  • arthroscopy: a small camera is inserted near the affected joint to get a closer look at the damage

What Treatments Do They Have in Common?

Treatment for arthritis, including arthrosis, may involve:

  • Medication. Several medicines are used to treat each of arthritis. Arthrosis, or OA, is often treated with pain-relieving medicines, such as over-the-counter (OTC) acetaminophen or prescription narcotics. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can treat pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy. Controlled physical movements can help people who have lost range of motion and strengthen joints to regain some of it.
  • Joint surgery. In severe cases, joint replacement or joint fusion surgery may be helpful to clean, replace, or fuse damaged joints.

Additional Treatments for Arthrosis

Treatment options for people with arthrosis, or OA, include:

  • Occupational therapy. If your job or hobbies have caused your arthrosis or aggravate it, an occupational therapist can help you develop ways to avoid additional damage.
  • Orthotics. Braces, splints, or shoe inserts can help relieve stress and pressure on your damaged joints and prevent additional damage.

Living with Arthrosis or Arthritis

If you’ve been diagnosed with arthrosis or another type of arthritis, work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that’s best for you. Learn more about the condition, including what triggers complications, how to treat it, and what to do to prevent it from getting worse.

Talk with your doctor about your options for medicines, physical therapy, or surgery. You can lead a normal, healthy life despite your arthritis if you know how to treat it properly.

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