Difference between arthritis and arthrosis: studying the manifestations of pain

The names of the diseases do sound like they affect the same organ system, namely the musculoskeletal system. What is the difference between arthritis and arthrosis and what are their similarities?

It is known for certain that the disease affects the musculoskeletal system, in particular the joints, but the etiology of the diseases is different.

So arthritis occurs due to any infection: local or general, and arthrosis are degenerative processes occurring in the articular cartilage, due to the aging of the human body.

However, any person, no matter how old he is, can get arthritis and arthrosis.

Among other things, arthrosis can refer to dystrophic processes, while arthritis can be side effects of other endo- and exogenous diseases.

Among the first, osteoarthritis and arthrosis deforming joints are distinguished, and arthritis are rheumatoid and rheumatic, specific infectious and post-traumatic, as well as arthritis can accompany concomitant diseases of the blood, respiratory system, digestion and others.


  • Arthrosisis ​​a chronic pathology of a degenerative-dystrophic nature. The onset of the disease is not associated with an inflammatory component. The pathological process is based on the loss of the ability to regenerate and restore by the cells of the articular cartilage. Over time, painful abnormalities cover the nearby anatomical structures: ligaments, bursa, synovium, muscle and bone tissue. Persons of middle and older age are most susceptible to arthrosis. According to the results of clinical studies, by the age of 45 - 65, 30% - 40% of the population undergo degenerative changes in the articular elements, and after 65 years the number of cases increases to 70% - 85%.
  • Arthritisaffects younger segments of the population. Some types of diseases are found in every thousandth child. The overall prevalence of arthritis is high among people of all ages. Unlike arthrosis, the disease is inflammatory. Inflammation develops in the synovial membrane of the articular cavity. As the pathology develops, it spreads to the cartilage and ligamentous apparatus, transforming into arthrosis.

It cannot be said which is worse: arthritis or arthrosis. Pathologies are interconnected. The articular elements, undergoing degenerative-dystrophic changes, respond to them with the development of the inflammatory process. The same situation can happen exactly the opposite. Places of pathological abnormalities after suffering arthritis are a favorable environment for arthrosis.

Mechanism of pathology formation

how arthritis differs from arthrosis

The difference between diseases is noted from the beginning - the mechanisms of their origin.

A fundamental role in the development of arthrosis is played by:

  • age-related changes;
  • climacteric period;
  • violation of metabolic processes;
  • heavy physical activity;
  • highly traumatic surgical interventions;
  • overweight;
  • frequent joint microtrauma;
  • increased uric acid levels;
  • lack of blood supply;
  • toxic intoxication of the body;
  • micronutrient deficiency.

The factors that cause the development of arthrosis are the early pathologies: protrusion of the acetabulum, osteochondropathy of the femoral head, endocrine diseases, hemophilia, diseases that provoked increased joint instability, weakness of the ligamentous apparatus. At a young age, degenerative changes develop against the background of congenital inferiority of the hip joint and traumatic lesions: subluxation and dislocation of the femoral head, fractures of the femoral neck and pelvis.

The starting point in the formation of arthritis are:

  • transferred extra-articular infections;
  • autoimmune reactions of the body;
  • inherited readiness of the gene encoding information from the cell surface to deviations;
  • the spread of the infectious agent through the lymphatic and blood pathways from the primary focus;
  • inflammation of the connective tissue;
  • diseases of the nervous system;
  • hypothermia.

Infection of the synovial fluid has a direct path - open injuries that penetrate the joint. The mechanism of the onset of arthritis is equipped with a complex and varied arsenal. The reason lies in the ability of the joints to respond quickly to any inflammation.

Difference in accompanying symptoms

distinctive symptoms of arthritis from arthrosis

So, with arthritis, pain most often occurs during physical exertion, and pain can also occur at night when a person is in the same position for a long time.

In arthrosis, pain occurs locally in one place, namely, where the inflammatory process takes place, but at rest the pain disappears.

The nature of pain is also different. For example, patients who develop arthritis suffer from acute, severe and twitching pains, and dull and aching pains accompany arthrosis.

The blood counts are also excellent. In the first case, there is an increase in the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and an increase in the level of C-reactive protein, as well as a high level of leukocytes and seromucoid. In the second case, there are no such deviations.

Signs accompanying these diseases will help to understand the difference between arthrosis and arthritis.

In arthrosis, the knee and hip joints are mainly affected by abnormal deviations, sometimes the process is localized in the shoulder area. Pathology develops gradually. The first short-term pains do not allow determining the exact location of the lesion.

Over time, the clinical picture is supplemented by the following signs:

  • a kind of crunchy sound appears when moving;
  • meteorological dependence is noted;
  • the intensity of the pain syndrome increases against the background of increased loads, at rest the pain passes;
  • range of motion gradually decreases;
  • there are thickenings along the edge of the joint space;
  • increasing in volume, the processes squeeze the nerve endings, causing severe incessant pain;
  • the joint is exposed to instability.

Any joint of the musculoskeletal system can be affected by pathological abnormalities in arthritis. The most vulnerable are small elements of the legs, hands, lower leg and elbow movable joints. Arthritis in rheumatoid form is characterized by symmetry of focal lesions.

The first symptomatology, as in arthrosis, appears unexpectedly. The clinic of pathology begins with a general malaise. Pathological abnormalities grow rapidly, affecting the mobility and functional abilities of the affected joint. But, if arthrosis is characterized by an exacerbation of pain during movement, then in the case of arthritis, the more you move, the less pain. The intensity of painful sensations increases at night. In the morning, the patient has difficulty overcoming stiffness in the joints. On palpation, pain is determined over the entire surface of the joint.

The condition is getting worse:

  • local hyperemia;
  • formation of subcutaneous nodules;
  • swollen lymph nodes;
  • peripheral nerve damage.

Pathology in the active phase is accompanied by a pronounced general symptom complex: an increase in temperature indicators, chills, fever, and intoxication syndrome. In case of complications, other elements of the biological system are involved in the pathological state: the organs of vision, respiration, digestion, cardiovascular, urinary, and nervous systems.

Arthrosis, in addition to complete destruction of the cartilage, causes disturbances in the biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system.

Differential research methods

A detailed study of the current clinical picture allows us to understand how to distinguish arthritis from arthrosis with the greatest accuracy.

Differential features are identified based on the results of the following studies:

  • Complete blood count.In arthrosis, in most cases, the sedimentation rate and reaction of erythrocytes in the blood remains normal. Arthritis is characterized by a significant increase in indicators, which confirms the presence of an inflammatory process in the body. The analysis does not give a clear definition of the disease, but it makes it possible to distinguish between degenerative-dystrophic changes from inflammation.
  • methods for diagnosing arthritis and arthrosis
  • Biochemical analysis of blood sampling. In arthritis, the study confirms the presence of inflammatory markers in the biomaterial: C-reactive protein, seromucoid. It is possible to detect rheumatoid factor - immunoglobulin antibodies that are mistakenly produced by the body. Biochemical parameters for arthrosis remain normal.
  • X-ray examination.At the initial stage of the development of arthritis, no pronounced changes are detected. With arthrosis, an uneven narrowing of the joint space is recorded, the formation of osteophytes (growths on the surface of the bone tissue).
  • MRI.The most reliable differential diagnosis of arthritis and arthrosis in the early stages. The technique allows to reveal changes in the structural structure of cartilage, compaction of the synovial membrane, joint effusion into the cavity, newly formed cysts, self-growth of bone tissue.

Features of therapy

Doctors of various qualifications are involved in the treatment of pathologies. With arthrosis, the patient is referred to an orthopedist-traumatologist. In the case of arthritis, the exact cause of the pathological changes is initially established. Depending on the revealed circumstances, a specialist is selected.

As a consequence, that both diseases affect the state of the supporting apparatus, then their methods of treatment are identical to each other. An important condition for recovery is a decrease in the total body weight, and, therefore, a decrease in the load on the organs affected by the disease. In both cases, if medications and physiotherapy courses do not bring positive results, joint replacement is used.

Specific therapy, remedial gymnastics, drug treatment, and physiotherapy are also used. With the most severe complications, arthroplasty is used.

In addition to identical methods, there is some difference in the treatment of pathologies.

For arthritis, treatment begins with immediate and vigorous therapy. Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial drugs are prescribed. Preference is given to drugs with the least pronounced side effects. If the result does not live up to expectations, drugs are successively replaced.

features of the treatment of arthritis and arthrosis

The complex medication course includes:

  • antihistamine intra-articular injections;
  • corticosteroids;
  • cytostatics;
  • sulfonamides;
  • products based on gold salts.

The prognosis with adequate and timely treatment of arthritis is usually good.

Osteoarthritis requires long-term and thorough treatment. The main task of therapeutic measures in the treatment of arthrosis is the restoration of the cartilage tissue of the joint. Pharmaceutical products with this ability include chondroprotectors. The most effective are chondroitin and glucosamine.

Impaired blood microcirculation is eliminated with the help of vasodilators. To get rid of spastic pains, relax muscle tone, muscle relaxants are prescribed. The local application of warming ointments and creams is shown, which is strictly prohibited in case of arthritis.

In parallel, funds that stimulate metabolic processes are used, the body is nourished with vitamins and microelements. Not the last place in the therapy of arthrosis is occupied by specially developed therapeutic exercises.

Osteoarthritis belongs to the group of chronic diseases that cause irreversible consequences that cannot be completely eliminated. Therapeutic measures are designed to slow down degenerative processes as much as possible.

In either case, people who observe any obvious signs of these diseases should immediately consult a specialist, and it is not worth treating these diseases on their own. Take care of your health and get what you want.