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Differences Between Non-Inflammatory and Inflammatory Arthritis

By Rick Cohen, 9:00 am on

While the term “arthritis” casually refers to joint inflammation, the word actually represents more than 200 conditions that affect the joints, connective tissue, and tissue surrounding joints. There are two common types of arthritis: inflammatory and non-inflammatory, each of which has different causes and areas that are usually affected.

Inflammatory Arthritis
Inflammatory arthritis is usually known as rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, although other types exist, including gout and ankylosing spondylitis. RA is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system is attacking healthy tissue. RA flare-ups usually last longer than non-inflammatory flare-ups.

What areas does RA affect?
In most cases, RA develops in the fingers and hands. As a systemic disease, inflammatory arthritis can also cause weakness and fatigue with symptoms that affect more than just the joints.

What causes RA?
While the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known, Milwaukee senior care experts note women are at a higher risk.

How is RA diagnosed?
Rheumatoid arthritis is usually diagnosed using a blood test, which looks for rheumatoid factor, an antibody found in the vast majority of RA cases.

How is RA treated?
The use of corticosteroids, NSAIDs, and physical therapy is often recommended for inflammatory arthritis. Some seniors can benefit from methotrexate, a psoriasis medication.

What is Non-Inflammatory Arthritis?
There are many types of non-inflammatory arthritis, such as scoliosis and torn ligaments, although the most common is osteoarthritis (OA). While it’s a non-inflammatory version of the disease, OA still results in joint inflammation.

What areas does OA affect?

Non-inflammatory arthritis is most common in the knees, hips, hands, and spine. With non-inflammatory arthritis, the pain or discomfort is usually confined to the affected joints.

What causes OA?
This type of inflammation is caused by wear and tear. OA is the result of a breakdown of cartilage, or the tissue that cushions the ends of joint bones. While an injury to the joint itself can accelerate the progression of the disease, even walking or playing sports can contribute to the development of OA.

How is OA diagnosed?
Unlike RA, non-inflammatory osteoarthritis can be diagnosed with standard X-rays and MRIs, which can show bone damage and cartilage breakdown.

How is OA treated?
Non-inflammatory arthritis may be treated with ibuprofen for mild flare-ups or NSAIDs. Corticosteroids may also reduce inflammation while physical therapy can improve range of motion and muscle strength.

Some seniors with arthritis have a harder time completing everyday tasks around the home. If your loved one could use a helping hand, turn to Home Care Assistance of Milwaukee, WI. In addition to hourly care, we offer comprehensive Milwaukee live-in care for seniors with more significant challenges. Call (414) 964-8000 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation with a friendly Care Manager to learn more.