Arthritis and arthrosis - what is the difference between these joint diseases?

People who first encounter joint diseases often ask: arthritis and arthrosis - what is the difference. These pathologies have similar names and symptoms, so they are often confused. When self-medicating, this confusion can have negative consequences, since what helps with arthrosis can do harm with arthritis.

Both of these diseases are serious and lead to disability, therefore, joint diseases should be treated by a specialist doctor.

What is the nature of these diseases?

The difference between arthrosis and arthritis is clear from their names. The suffix "it" in the name of the disease indicates the inflammatory nature of the disease, and "oz" indicates the presence of pathological changes in the tissues.

Accordingly, arthritis is an inflammation of the joint tissues that can be caused by various reasons. And arthrosis is degenerative changes in articular cartilage that develop after injury or from the action of age factors. Let's take a closer look at what arthritis and arthrosis are.

Arthrosis - what is it?

causes of arthrosis of the joints

The articulated surfaces of the bones are covered with smooth cartilaginous tissue and are constantly lubricated with synovial fluid for easy gliding. Arthrosis is characterized by pathological processes leading to the fact that the surface of the cartilage loses its smoothness, ulcerates and becomes thinner.

Because of this, when rubbing the mating cartilaginous surfaces, they scratch each other, as a result, degenerative processes are aggravated until the cartilage is completely destroyed. Growths appear along the edges of the bone - osteophytes, which impede the mobility of the joint.

With timely detection of arthrosis, the process of cartilage destruction can be slowed down for decades, using modern methods of treatment and prevention. But, as a rule, in the end arthrosis leads to the complete destruction of cartilage and immobilization of the affected joint.

The only way to restore the lost functionality to him is surgery to replace the joint with an artificial endoprosthesis.

Arthritis - what is it?

Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. It is known that the inflammatory process is nothing more than the fight of immune blood cells (leukocytes) with foreign formations in the body. Most often, immune cells take up arms against an infection that has entered the body.

At the site of this struggle, inflammation occurs, characterized by redness, increased local temperature, pain and swelling. The leukocytes that died during the protection of the body are nothing more than pus, often formed during the process of inflammation.

Arthritis can be of various origins. Sometimes it occurs when an infection enters the joint cavity. These types of arthritis respond well to antibiotic treatment and often go away without consequences.

what is arthritis of the joints

Other types of this disease are less responsive to treatment and usually lead to disability. In particular, this is rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which immune cells lose their bearings and begin to fight against the tissues of their own body.

Gouty arthritis occurs in the elderly due to metabolic disorders and salt deposition in the joints.

Psoriatic arthritis is known, which occurs in about 10% of patients with psoriasis, as well as many other types of this dangerous disease.

Is there a relationship between these diseases?

Analyzing the difference between arthritis and arthrosis, one cannot fail to mention that these diseases are often associated with each other. So, for example, in rheumatoid arthritis, the joint tissues undergo degenerative changes characteristic of arthrosis. Over time, the joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis become deformed and lose their function, as in arthrosis.

The same can be said about gouty arthritis. Sharp crystals of salts deposited in the articular cartilage, on the one hand, cause their inflammation, and on the other hand, they scratch the surfaces of the cartilage tissue, which causes its abrasion and gradual degeneration, characteristic of arthrosis.

As you can see, chronic forms of arthritis negatively affect the condition of the articular cartilage and, over time, lead to the progression of processes characteristic of arthrosis - deformity and loss of joint function.

This rule works the other way too. The course of arthrosis is rarely complete without concomitant arthritis. When the surfaces of the articular cartilage, which are destroyed due to degenerative processes, rub against each other, microtraumas appear on them, and pieces of cartilage can break off. This provokes inflammation, and we already know that inflammation in the joints is arthritis.

Thus, arthrosis proceeds with periodic exacerbations, which are often accompanied by associated arthritis.

Because the two are so interconnected, it is sometimes difficult to understand: arthritis and arthrosis - what is the difference. To decide, you need to look at the root cause of the disease, at what started the pathological process. If degenerative changes in cartilage became the impetus for the disease, then this is arthrosis, and if the cause is inflammation caused by infections, problems with hormonal levels, immunity or metabolism, then this is arthritis.

What are the causes of these pathologies?

the main differences between arthritis and arthrosis

Arthrosis is a degenerative-dystrophic changes in cartilage that develop for the reasons:

  • Insufficient tissue nutrition;
  • Traumatic.

Lack of nutrition occurs, as a rule, due to age-related changes in the body. Therefore, arthrosis often appears in people over 50-60 years old. At this age, tissue regeneration slows down, metabolic disorders appear, which for many leads to problems with joints.

Traumatic arthrosis can develop at a younger age. It is caused by congenital as well as acquired defects in the articular cartilage, which injure the surface of the mating cartilage, which provokes their further destruction.

The root causes of traumatic arthrosis can be:

  1. Congenital defects of articular cartilage;
  2. Injuries received;
  3. Joint surgery;
  4. Large overweight.

Arthritis, unlike arthrosis, with the exception of gouty, is more common in young people. Its reasons are:

  • Genetic predisposition to autoimmune and systemic diseases;
  • Infections;
  • Hormonal disorders.

What are the similarities and differences between symptoms?

Arthrosis is characterized by a gradual, slow onset of symptoms. The initial stage of the disease can last for years without showing itself. There may be a crunch in the joints, periodically arising pain with a load higher than usual.

Most often, a doctor is consulted when the disease has already reached stage II. Typical symptoms of arthrosis:

  • Joint pain under exertion, relieving at rest;
  • Clicks when moving the problem joint;
  • Morning stiffness, when after waking up for normal joint function it is necessary to "develop" it;
  • similarity of symptoms of arthritis and arthrosis
  • The joints of the hands, feet, spine, knee and hip joints are most often affected by arthrosis; less often - shoulder and ankle;
  • The appearance of pain at rest, nocturnal pains testifies to the associated arthritis - inflammation due to constant microtrauma of the cartilage;
  • At later stages, a progressive decrease in the range of motion is added, up to complete immobilization of the joint, or, conversely, the appearance of "looseness", unnatural mobility.

Unlike arthrosis, arthritis begins with pronounced symptoms characteristic of inflammation processes:

  1. Severe pain in the joint, which does not subside even at rest, pulsation, twitching is felt;
  2. Night pains that prevent sleep;
  3. Redness, swelling in the affected area;
  4. High temperature at the site of inflammation, often an increase in the temperature of the whole body;
  5. Small joints are more susceptible to arthritis - wrists, fingers, sometimes ankles, knees;
  6. Several joints are often affected at the same time (polyarthritis);
  7. Arthritis often becomes a complication of diseases caused by bacterial and viral infections.

The rest of the symptoms of arthritis differ depending on its type, of which there are many. Many types of arthritis are serious diseases that affect other body systems in addition to the joints.


For a doctor, the difference between arthritis and arthrosis is obvious from the clinical picture. Often, in order to diagnose arthrosis and establish its stage, it is enough to make an X-ray of the problem joint in two projections. The picture will show the size of the joint gap, the presence or absence of bone growths - osteophytes, the degree of bone deformation.

how to distinguish arthritis from arthrosis

The diagnosis of arthritis requires more research, because for successful treatment it is necessary to establish the type of pathology - whether there is a systemic disease, whether inflammation is caused by an infection or exacerbation of arthrosis.

To establish an accurate diagnosis, modern diagnostic methods such as ultrasound, CT, MRI, arthroscopy, and puncture of the joints can be used to study the synovial fluid. A blood test for rheumatic tests is of great importance in the diagnosis of arthritis.

Therapy Similarities and Differences

Treatment for arthritis and arthrosis has more differences than similarities. In fact, the only thing that unites them is the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and inflammation. Depending on the diagnosis and the patient's condition, these drugs can be used for topical application, orally, or in the form of injections, including in the articular cavity.

In case of ineffectiveness of NSAID treatment, hormonal drugs are used - corticosteroids, which have strong side effects, therefore they are prescribed only in extreme cases.

Other treatments for arthritis and arthrosis are different. Each type of arthritis has its own treatment regimen, taking into account the nature of the disease. In the therapy of each type, in addition to NSAIDs, antibiotics, hormonal, immunobiological drugs and many other specific agents, including physiotherapeutic ones, can be used.

The main goal of arthritis treatment is to relieve inflammation, treat comorbidities and ensure a long period of remission. In cases of severe damage to the joints, surgical operations are indicated.

When treating arthrosis, the main task is to slow down the pathological processes of destruction of articular cartilage as much as possible. For this, chondroprotectors are actively used - drugs that promote the regeneration of articular cartilage, as well as vitamins and minerals. In the stage of remission, patients are shown physiotherapeutic procedures, physiotherapy exercises.

prevention of the development of arthritis and arthrosis

Great importance is attached to preventive measures:

  • Weight normalization;
  • Proper nutritious nutrition;
  • Quitting bad habits;
  • Refusal from overloading diseased joints;
  • Feasible physical activity.

When reaching severe stages of arthrosis due to joint immobility or vice versa - unnatural mobility, limb functionality may be lost. In such cases, an operation to replace the damaged joint with an endoprosthesis will help the patient return to full life.

Unfortunately, so far there are no therapeutic agents capable of restoring joints destroyed by arthrosis and arthritis. It is only possible to stretch this pathological process as much as possible in time, and after the joint is out of order, to resort to surgical intervention. Therefore, it is very important not to delay the visit to the doctor, having noticed the first signs of these diseases.

As you can see, the difference between arthritis and arthrosis determines the differences in their treatment. Arthritis therapy is focused on eliminating the inflammatory process and treating concomitant diseases, and in the treatment of arthrosis, pain relief and measures to prevent further joint destruction come first.

In this context, it becomes clear how to relate to warming up the joints in these diseases. Warming up the problem area helps to activate blood circulation in nearby tissues.

In case of degenerative-dystrophic processes in the cartilaginous tissue, blood flow improves the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the joint, accelerates metabolic processes. This helps to improve the regeneration of joint tissues. This means that with arthrosis, warming up the joints is beneficial.

Heating pads and warming compresses for arthritis have a completely different effect. In the area of ​​the inflammatory process, the temperature is already increased. Warming up only aggravates the inflammatory process and promotes the spread of infection outside the joint. Therefore, in case of arthritis, heating of diseased joints with heating pads, compresses and baths is strictly prohibited.


Many people are wondering what is worse arthritis or arthrosis. This question may seem strange, because it is impossible to choose a milder disease for yourself. Both diseases are associated with severe pain, limitations in motor activity. Arthrosis and many types of arthritis are disabling.

But if only the joints are affected with arthrosis, then, for example, with rheumatoid arthritis, not only the joints suffer, but practically all body systems - cardiovascular, nervous, respiratory, kidneys, skin, hematopoiesis, organs of vision.

For any of these diseases, it is important to recognize them at the initial stages and start treatment as early as possible in order to slow down the progression of these pathologies, while the damage they cause to the joints is not too great.