Is There a Difference Between Joint Pain and Arthritis?

Joint pain in the form of arthritis affects more than 92 million adults in the United States, with symptoms that range from mild to those that pose serious limitations. While arthritis is, far and away, the leading cause of joint pain, it isn’t the only cause.

Our team of musculoskeletal experts here at Summit Pain Alliance understands the extensive impact that joint pain has on our patients, and we’re here to help. Whether your joint pain stems from arthritis or another issue, we have the tools and services you need to regain pain-free movement.

Here’s a look at the difference between arthritis and joint pain to help you better understand the problem.

Differentiating joint pain from arthritis

It’s important to understand that joint pain and arthritis are often intertwined.

Technically, arthritis describes any condition that causes inflammation and pain in your joints. In fact, the hallmark inflammation of arthritis is often what causes the pain.

With joint pain, you may experience an achy or painful joint without the inflammation. That often precedes arthritis and is a sign of a brewing problem that ends with inflammation.

The many faces of arthritis

Making matters a little more complicated is that there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. To make things easier, we’ve narrowed the conditions that qualify as arthritis into four categories:

Degenerative arthritis

This form of arthritis occurs when the soft tissues inside your joints begin to break down. The most common form of degenerative arthritis is osteoarthritis, a condition in which the cartilage inside your joint wears away.

Inflammatory arthritis

This type of arthritis develops because of a faulty immune system that creates inflammation inside your joints. The most common forms of this type of arthritis include rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis.

Infectious arthritis

As the name implies, these types of arthritis are caused by an infection in your body that leads to inflammation and pain in your joints.

Metabolic arthritis

This type of arthritis stems from a problem with your metabolic system, as is the case with gout, which is the most common form of metabolic arthritis.

Joint pain that is not arthritis

While most joint pain is caused by one of the many forms of arthritis, it can also develop because of:

Again, many of these conditions lead to joint pain and inflammation, but we consider them slightly different from arthritis.

Treating your joint pain

No matter the source of your joint pain, our goal is to help you find relief. We offer a wide range of treatment options, depending upon the exact nature of your problem, which include:

To determine the best approach for your joint pain or arthritis, the first step is to contact one of our two locations in Santa Rosa or Petaluma, California, to set up an appointment.

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