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Rheumatoid Arthritis & Orthopaedic Joint Pain: What’s the Difference?


Dr. Lourdes Aponte on Rheumatoid Arthritis:

WHAT: Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disease where the body attacks tissues lining the joints and causes severe pain and inflammation.

HOW: Inflammation may begin in smaller joints and be accompanied by stiffness and fatigue. It can affect the entire body and spread quickly.

CAUSE: It“s a combination of genetics and environment. For example, having a first-degree relative with Rheumatoid Arthritis or smoking increases the risk.

TREATMENT:  The most common forms are medications, including anti-inflammatories and anti-rheumatic treatments, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications.


Dr. Gita Pillai on Orthopaedic Joint Pain:

WHAT: Orthopaedic joint pain can be due to many different things—ligament tears, tissue and muscle injuries, fractures, or osteoarthritis.

HOW: These conditions can occur as a result of a sporting injury, trauma, or just by wear and tear of the joints over time.

CAUSE: No one process can cause orthopedic joint pain, but in general it is a mechanical issue caused by either an injury or wear of the joint over time.

TREATMENT: Treatment varies  Many problems can be treated with therapy, medications, and injections. Surgery may be an option if pain is not resolved with non-invasive treatment.

TAKEAWAY: While there’s no silver bullet treatment for any type of joint pain, there are effective methods for managing symptoms and living a full, active life. If you experience joint pain, start by consulting your primary care physician.



More than 50 million people in America suffer from autoimmune diseases, and more than 75% of those are women. Talk with your physician if you experience unexplained pain, fever, or fatigue.

This article appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of the Beacon.