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Can I Have OA and RA At The Same Time? 

 September 4, 2023

By  Linda Rook

Pain in neck.

Introduction.

Arthritis is a common and often debilitating medical condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is not a single disease but rather a term that includes a group of more than 100 different types of joint disorders.

Arthritis mainly involves inflammation and stiffness in the joints, which can lead to pain, reduced mobility, and a reduced quality of life.

This condition can affect people of all ages, including children, but it is more commonly associated with older adults.

Among the various types, osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are two of the most common forms. While they are distinct conditions with different underlying causes, it is possible for a person to be diagnosed with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis at the same time. This coexistence poses unique challenges in terms of diagnosis, management, and quality of life.

What is Osteoarthritis or OA.

Osteoarthritis (OA), often referred to as "wear and tear" arthritis, is a common yet often misunderstood joint disorder.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that primarily affects the cartilage. The cartilage is the protective cushioning tissue that covers the ends of bones within a joint. As this cartilage deteriorates over time, the bones can start to rub against each other, leading to pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced joint mobility.

While OA can affect any joint, it most commonly targets weight-bearing joints like the knees, hips, and spine, as well as joints in the hands and feet.

Osteoarthritis of the knee.

Causes and Risk Factors.

Several factors contribute to the development of osteoarthritis:

Age: OA increases with age, as the natural wear and tear on joints accumulate over time.

Joint Overuse: Repetitive use or overuse of a joint, often seen in athletes or individuals with physically demanding occupations, can quicken cartilage breakdown.

Genetics: Family history can play a role, if some one in the family already had OA you are more likely to develop it.

Obesity: Excess body weight places additional stress on joints, especially the hips and knees.

Joint Injuries: Previous joint injuries or trauma can increase the likelihood of developing OA in that joint.

As in my case I fell, on some icy in December of 1970s, I was walking back to work from my lunch break.  The knee cap went across a kerb.  I have now developed OA in my knees, hips, and my shoulders with an artificial right hip. 

shoulder pain

Symptoms and Diagnosis.

The symptoms of osteoarthritis can vary from person to person and depend on the severity of the condition.

Common symptoms include:

Pain: Pain is the main symptom of OA.

Stiffness: Joints affected by OA can feel stiff.

Swelling: Inflammation in the joint can lead to swelling and a feeling of warmth around the area.

Limited Range of Motion: As the disease progresses, joint mobility can become restricted.

Diagnosing OA involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans.

Managing Osteoarthritis.

There is no cure for OA, but you can do some strategies that can effectively help the symptoms and improve quality of life:

Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and reduce inflammation.

They can be prescribed to you by your doctor but if you buy anything over the counter you must consult with your GP first.

Lifestyle Modifications: Maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and regular exercise can significantly alleviate joint stress. Low-impact activities are recommended like walking.

Physical Therapy: A physio can design exercise programs just for you, that improve joint flexibility, strengthen surrounding muscles, and joint stability.

Assistive Devices: The use of devices like braces, canes, or orthotic shoe inserts can provide support and improve your mobility.

Injections: Corticosteroid injections or hyaluronic acid injections directly into the joint can provide temporary pain relief.

Surgery: In severe cases where traditional treatments are insufficient, surgical options such as joint replacement surgery may be considered.

Physio, Balancing Ball

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis RA.

Rheumatoid arthritis is called an autoimmune disorder, as it attacks the immune system by mistake and attacks the healthy tissues. The immune system is mainly the synovium, which is a lining of the membranes that covers the joints. This results in inflammation within the joints, leading to pain, swelling, stiffness, and, over time, joint damage, and deformities.

The Complexity of Causes.

While the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains vague, a combination of genetic and environmental factors is believed to contribute to its development. Some key factors include:

Genetics: A family history of RA could increase the likelihood of developing the condition.

Environmental Triggers: Certain infections or exposure to environmental factors, such as smoking, might trigger the onset of RA.

Immune System Dysfunction: In RA, the immune system mistakenly identifies joint tissues as foreign invaders and launches an immune response against them.

Symptoms.

RA has a range of symptoms that can vary in severity from person to person:

Joint Pain and Stiffness: Morning stiffness and persistent joint pain.

Swelling and Redness: Inflamed joints may appear swollen, warm, and red due to increased blood flow.

Fatigue: The chronic inflammation in RA can lead to fatigue and a general feeling of being unwell.

Reduced Mobility: As RA progresses, joint damage can result in decreased range of motion and joint deformities.

stair chair a device for the home stairs.

Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Managing rheumatoid arthritis helps to control the symptoms, therefore preventing further joint damage, and improve your overall quality of life:

Medications: Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biologics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Lifestyle Modifications: Regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, and managing stress.

Physical and Occupational Therapy: These therapies help improve joint function, strengthen muscles, and enhance daily life activities.

Surgery: In advanced cases, surgical interventions like joint replacement may be considered to restore function.

Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The Dual Diagnosis:

While OA and RA have distinct underlying causes, it is possible for an individual to experience symptoms of both conditions. The reasons for this coexistence are not fully understood, but several factors may contribute. Genetics, lifestyle factors, and immune system dysfunction could potentially play a role in the development of both OA and RA in the same person.

The Dual Challenges and Diagnosis:

Having OA and RA can present a unique set of challenges for both patients and healthcare providers:

Diagnostic Complexity: Distinguishing between the symptoms of OA and RA can be complicated, as both conditions can cause joint pain and stiffness.

Treatment Dilemma: Treating a patient with both OA and RA requires a tailored approach. OA often focuses on pain relief, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications. RA, however, requires disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to suppress the immune system's attack.

Pain Management: Pain management becomes intricate, as strategies for one condition might not be effective for the other. OA-related pain might respond well to analgesics, while RA-associated pain requires anti-inflammatory medications.

Impact on Quality of Life: Both OA and RA can deeply affect a person's quality of life, and their coexistence worsens the physical, emotional, and psychological toll on the person.

Managing Coexisting Conditions.

Effectively managing both OA and RA involve a multidisciplinary approach:

Accurate Diagnosis: A thorough evaluation by medical professionals, including rheumatologists and orthopaedic specialists, is essential to accurately diagnose and distinguish between the two conditions.

Tailored Treatment Plan: A treatment plan should address pain relief, joint protection, physical therapy, and disease management as needed.

Arthritic Hand

Lifestyle Adjustments: Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and managing stress, can contribute to overall well-being and alleviate symptoms.

Patient Education: Educating patients about their conditions, treatment options, and self-management methods allows them to actively participate in their care.

In Conclusion.

While it is possible to have both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis simultaneously, managing these dual conditions requires a comprehensive and adapted approach. Teamwork between medical professionals and the patient is vital to ensure effective symptom management and improved quality of life.

Early diagnosis and effective management are essential for improving the quality of life for those living with arthritis. While there is no cure, ongoing research and medical advancements continue to provide hope for better treatments and interventions in the future.

I hope this article has helped you. Please subscribe to my website, and I will keep you updated on new blogs. Also, if you need to know anything about arthritis, please go to my contact page and leave a message, and I will get back to you.

In the meantime, if this post is informative, I’d be very grateful if you’d help your friends or family if they have a similar condition to tell them. So please share it on Twitter or Facebook or send them an email.

I am not a medical professional, and this blog is for information only. If you have any worries, you should consult your doctor.

I hope this blog has helped.

https://foodwitharthitis.com

Linda Rook

Linda is now retired and has suffered from Osteoarthritis for about 40+ years.  She struggled with her weight until she found the correct one that also helped with her arthritic pain.  Linda was in terrible pain until the physician thought her right hip needed replacement. 


Now Linda has an artificial right hip, which has left her with the left leg shorter than the right.  Therefore, her spine is now wonky, and has arthritis of the lower back, also it seems to be going all over the body, her pain is now in the knees, elbow, wrist, fingers and both hips.


Linda now spends her days writing information to help others with the same conditions, so they do not suffer like Linda.


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