Arthritis and arthrosis sound similar. Both of them affect your bones, ligaments, and joints. They also share many of the same symptoms, including joint stiffness and pain. But the difference between the two is important.
Arthritis is an umbrella term. It’s used to describe several conditions that cause inflammation in your joints. In some cases, the inflammation can also affect your skin, muscles, and organs. Examples include osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and gout.
Arthrosis is another name for OA, one type of arthritis. It’s the most common type of arthritis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. It’s caused by normal wear and tear on your joints and cartilage. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of your bones and helps your joints move. Over time, your cartilage can deteriorate and may even disappear completely. This results in bone-to-bone contact in your joints, causing pain, stiffness, and sometimes swelling.
Arthrosis can affect any joint in your body. It’s most likely to affect the joints of your hands, neck, knees, and hips. Your risk of developing it increases with age.
The symptoms of arthritis vary from one type to another. Joint pain and stiffness are the two most common. Other common symptoms of arthritis include:
- swelling in your joints
- redness of the skin around affected joints
- reduced range of motion in affected joints
The most common symptoms of arthrosis, in particular, include:
- joint pain
- joint stiffness
- tenderness around affected joints
- reduced flexibility in affected joints
- bone-to-bone grating or rubbing
- bone spurs, or small bits of extra bone growth that may develop around affected joints
Your risk of developing arthrosis, as well as some other types of arthritis, can be affected by:
- Age: Arthrosis and many other types of arthritis are more common in older people.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop arthrosis, as well as RA. Men are more likely to develop gout.
- Weight: Extra weight puts more pressure on your joints. This raises your risk of joint damage and arthrosis. Being overweight also raises your risk of some other types of arthritis.
- Injuries: Accidents and infections can damage your joints, raising your risk of arthrosis. It can also raise your chances of developing some other types of arthritis.
- Joint deformities: Malformed cartilage and uneven joints increase your risk of arthrosis.
- Occupation: Work that requires you to put a lot of stress on joints can increase your risk of arthrosis.
- Genes: You’re more likely to develop arthrosis if you have a family history of the condition. Your genes also affect your chances of developing other types of arthritis like RA.
Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and family history. This will help them diagnose your type of arthritis. They will also conduct a physical exam. They may also conduct one or more tests, such as:
- blood tests to check for markers of inflammation and infection
- joint aspiration to collect and analyze a sample of fluid from an affected joint
- arthroscopy or other imaging tests, such X-rays or MRI scans, to visually examine your affected joints
Arthroscopy involves your doctor inserting a small camera near one of more of your affected joints. This will allow them to get a closer look.
Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan for arthrosis, or other types of arthritis. Treatments may include:
- Medication: These include over-the-counter (OTC) acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Physical therapy: A therapist will teach you to perform exercises to help you strengthen and stabilize your joints and regain or maintain your range of motion.
- Occupational therapy: A therapist will help you develop strategies to adjust your work environment or habits to help manage your condition.
- Orthotics: These include braces, splints, or shoe inserts that help relieve stress and pressure on damaged joints.
- Joint surgery: A joint replacement or joint fusion will clean, replace, or fuse damaged joints.
In most cases, your doctor will encourage you to try less invasive treatments before they recommend surgery.
Work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan if you’re diagnosed with arthrosis or arthritis. Learn more about the condition, how to treat it, and how to keep it from getting worse.
Talk with your doctor about your options for medicines, physical therapy, and other treatments. Usually you can lead a normal and healthy life with arthritis, especially if you know how to manage it.