Arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis - What's the Difference?

Arthritis is a joint disorder that involves inflammation and pain among one or more joints. There are actually over 100 different forms of arthritis with the most common form being osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is caused by the breakdown and degradation of joints. It is essentially the wear and tear of the joint from everyday life ... but it can also be the result of injury.  It begins in the cartilage at the end of the bone wearing away causing minor pain and inflammation. As the bone surfaces become exposed, due to the loss of the cartilage, the two opposing bones start to erode into each other.

It can affect both the larger and smaller joints of the body but it most often affects the weight bearing bones of the body. The main areas it affects are the spine, pelvis, fetlock and hocks.

Rheumatoid Arthritis on the other hand is an auto-immune disease, meaning the body is attacking its own tissues and joints. This effectively means that the body is breaking down its own joints.

However, rheumatoid arthritis doesn't affect horses (although it can be seen in pets such as cats and dogs) only osteoarthritis. So when a vet talks about a horse having arthritis, OA or degenerative joint disease (DJD), they're all synonymous with arthritis.

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