Rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation of joints and surrounding tissues, is a common condition that many elderly suffer from. Unfortunately, there are many conditions that exhibit similar symptoms to RA, which makes it difficult to diagnose. Therefore, it’s important to seek a doctor’s advice before making assumptions.
According to HealthCentral.com, knowing the similarities and differences of these conditions can be beneficial in ensuring that the proper treatment is delivered. The website, which aims to empower millions of people to improve and take control of their health and well-being, pinpointed seven conditions that are sometimes mistaken for RA. The editors there went on to explain how they can mimic RA as well as how they can differ.
1. Psoriatic Arthritis: Though psoriatic arthritis has many similar symptoms as RA, including pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints, there are several differences. First of all, 85 percent of people who develop PA have psoriasis first. Psoriasis is not a comorbid condition of RA. PA also has more asymmetric joint invovlement and no nodules, among other things.
2. Inflammatory Erosive Osteoarthritis: IEO can look similar to rheumatoid arthritis, in that the inflammatory process is taking place in the body. Over time, there is damage to the joint, which can be seen as erosion on an x-ray. Unlike RA, however, eventually inflammation will subside.
3. Gout: In gouty arthritis, the joint can become red, swollen and extremely tender to the touch. Typically, even a bed sheet brushing against the joint will trigger intense
pain. However, gout is characterized by too much uric acid in the blood and tissues.
4. Ankylosing Spondylitis: Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that mainly affects the lower back. It causes inflammation and damage at the joints, and first affects the sacroiliac joints between the spine and the pelvis.AS is three times more common in men, and inflames where the tendon inserts into bone, rather than the membrane that lines the joint as in RA.
5. Lupus: Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body's antibodies attack one's own tissues. Symptoms include skin rash, pain and swelling in joints, muscle aches and fatigue. Sometimes people can develop rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, which can make diagnosis of both conditions a challenge.
6. Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissue. Similar to RA, fatigue and sleep disturbances are also common. For many years, Fibromyalgia was thought to be a musculoskeletal disorder, however, it is now better defined as a central nervous system disorder resulting in abnormal pain processing.
7. Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease spread through a tick bite. Symptoms can include flu-like symptoms, joint inflammation, stiff neck and itching. A blood test can be done to check for antibodies to the bacteria that cause the disease.
Although it is important to understand what defines each of these conditions, we here at Freedom Home Care always suggest to talk to your doctor first before taking the next step in treatment. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact one of our in-home caregivers.