The word arthritis itself means swelling of the joints and this is precisely what this common disorder is. Many people have a bit of arthritis in their hands or another body part as they get older, but some people suffered from what is called rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is an autoimmune disease that affects most of the joints in the body. This condition is often confused with gout as they may have many of the same symptoms. Determining which disorder you suffer from can help you get the proper treatment.
What is Arthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis?
More than 1 million people suffer from rheumatoid arthritis in the United States alone. This disease is caused by a problem with the immune system and is not simply swelling of the joints due to injury or poor diet. The body begins attacking itself because it mistakenly determines parts of it are foreign to the body and do not belong there. This is especially focused on the joints and the cushions between them that help them move more comfortably.
What is Gout?
Gout is also a type of arthritis, but it usually attacks the toes and feet instead of the entire body. Originally called a disease of kings, gout has long been associated with rich foods and unhealthy eating habits. While this is no longer considered a direct correlation, gout does have to do with how the body metabolizes certain nutrients.
A compound called purine is turned into uric acid, which is usually secreted during urination. When a person has gout, this uric acid crystallizes in the blood and settles in the joints of the foot. This causes inflammation and extreme pain.
Diagnosing the Difference Between Arthritis and Gout
The two most common ways of determining if you are suffering from gout or other arthritis are location and intensity. If you experience joint pain and swelling throughout your body, you probably have arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. If the pain is centralized at the base of your toes or throughout your feet, gout is probably the culprit. Also, the pain from gout is usually much acuter and more drastic. Instead of a dull ache and stiffness, you will experience very high levels of pain.
Treatment Options for Gout and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Because these two painful disorders are quite different in scope and cause, they are treated differently. Some similarities do exist, such as the use of anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers to help alleviate symptoms.
Because rheumatoid arthritis is an immune disorder, medications that affect the actions of the immune system to try to stop it from attacking your own body. Anti-rheumic drugs help to slow the progression of the disorder so it does not get any worse.
People who have gout still receives a suggestion to stay away from rich or unhealthy foods. This is good advice for anyone looking to improve their health. Besides prescription medications that block uric acid production, the basic treatment is a series of pain relievers and corticosteroids to help with inflammation and other problems associated with this disease.