Several factors could cause joint pain. It could be a change of weather, slight ailments or cold, or even just humidity. Rheumatism is often confused with joint and muscle pain and this confusion also creates a considerable delay in the correct diagnosis of patients. But how do the symptoms of arthritis vs osteoarthritis compare?

Professor Carlo Selmi, Head of Rheumatology and Immunology of Humanitas Clinic, and professor of the University of Milan, spoke about the topic on the World Rheumatic Diseases Day, last October 12. We summed up the main points made by Prof. Selmi.


Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis: Causes and differences

In rheumatism we can consider two categories: the pain linked to arthritis and that related to osteoarthritis. Arthritis is a typical inflammatory process in which your joints cause a “disturbed immune system” followed with chronic inflammation. This also leads to joint damage and of course pain. In arthrosis, the joint is consumed due to age and wear of the joint itself. Subsequently it can manifest into an inflammation. The joints most affected are those accustomed to bearing our weight, such as the hip or knee. Usually, osteoarthritis is manifested by damage to the cartilage that tries to cover the head of the bone within the joint.


How can we recognize the pain of osteoarthritis and distinguish it from the arthritis?        

The features are pretty easy to recognize; the first is the fact that the pain associated with arthritis improves after using the articulation. With movement and heating the joint, pain is reduced. Another important indicator is joint stiffness in the morning. When you wake up its normal to find it hard to make precise movements, especially with your hands, and at the beginning. Usually this difficulty lasts a few minutes. However, in patients with osteoarthritis it lasts for several hours, sometimes even for the whole day. This is an element of major importance for distinguishing the two types of pain.


Is it better to fight the pain with warmth or cold?

This depends largely on the patient, because it is a very subjective factor. Generally, inflammatory diseases tend to relieved with warmer temperatures, but there are cases of people applying ice on the joints and experiencing a positive effect. It is important to note that none of these remedies are the recommended ones for arthritis or osteoarthritis. These are palliatives that can slightly improve symptoms. The same goes for spa treatments: their benefit lasts only during the time of treatment.


Can Psoriasis be linked to arthritis?

Yes. Psoriasis affects about 3% of the Italian population. About a third of these people also develop a form of joint inflammation that takes the name of psoriatic arthritis. Today we have the means to recognize and achieve extremely effective therapies to treat this disease. This was unthinkable a few years ago.