Osteoarthritis Arthritis Disease Types

Osteoarthritis is only one of hundreds of diseases that attack the joints, and just one of more than 100 different types of arthritis. Some disorders look remarkably similar to osteoarthritis, and so can be mistaken for it. Here are some of the more common joint diseases that mimic the symptoms of osteoarthritis:

Gout

Caused by excess amounts of uric acid in the bloodstream, gout is often mistaken for osteoarthritis. Kidney problems are the main cause of gout. Uric acid crystals from the blood build up in joints, leading to attacks of “gouty arthritis.” White blood cells flood the joint to remove the uric acid crystals causing sudden and painful joint inflammation.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a degenerative disease that occurs when the body’s immune system malfunctions and turns on the body. Although joint cartilage and bones are the most common targets of rheumatoid arthritis, RA can also attack internal organs. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by sudden and severe inflammation of the joints, coupled with rapid joint deterioration and damage.

Pseudogout (Chondrocalcinosis)

Chondrocalcinosis can be mistaken for either osteoarthritis or gout (hence its other name “pseudogout”). The knee is the most common joint affected by pseudogout. With pseudogout, excessive calcium deposits in the joints cause pain and swelling. An attack of pseudogout can last for weeks. Because it seems to run in families, chondrocalcinosis is a suspected genetic disorder.

Charcot’s Joints

Charcot’s joints is caused by damage to the nerves in the affected joints. Nerve damage leads to a lack of sensation in the joint so that an injury as minor as a sprain to as severe as a fracture goes unnoticed. Charcots’ joints is a progressive degenerative disease with each unnoticed injury weakening the joint further, leading to joint deformity and even complete destruction of the joint.

Sciatica

The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back down to the feet. Often caused by slipped or herniated spinal discs that damage the sciatic nerve, the pain or numbness of sciatica may occur anywhere along this nerve. When sciatica centers on a joint it can be mistaken for osteoarthritis.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis occurs when arthritis occurs in combination with the skin disease psoriasis. Inflammation caused by psoriasis aggravates the arthritis, and causes joint deformation and pain.

Resources

Sciatica.org. (nd). Frequently asked questions.

Stonely, D.E. (1999). Chacot’s joints. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine.

Wright, K.D. (2001). Low back pain. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine.

Arthritis Foundation. (updated 2004). Psoriatic arthritis.

Klick Healthcare Communications. (updated 2003). Pseudogout. The Arthritis Society.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (2002). Questions and answers about gout [NIH Publication No. 02-5027].

Arthritis Foundation. (updated 2004). Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).