Swollen joints? Pain? Stiffness when you move? Inflammation? All of these symptoms are often a sign that something isn’t right. Is it gout? Maybe. Or, is it rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? RA and gout are two types of arthritis with different causes and treatments, but they have very similar symptoms. So, how can you tell them apart?
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes joints to become inflamed, swollen, painful, and stiff. About 1.3 million Americans are living with RA, according to the American College of Rheumatology.
The condition can also affect other areas of the body — including the skin, lungs, heart, and eyes. Those living with RA have a higher risk of developing pulmonary disorders and heart conditions.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis tends to impact the smaller joints first before spreading to larger areas like the wrists, elbows, shoulders, or hips. And, symptoms can also occur in places that aren’t joints — such as the skin, eyes, internal organs, and nerve tissue. The most common signs of RA include:
- Tender, warm, swollen joints
- Joint stiffness that’s usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity
- Fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite
What is gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that usually affects the big toe joint of the foot. It can also affect the top of the foot and the ankle in some cases. While it is rare, it can also cause pain in other joints.
Symptoms of Gout
Gout occurs suddenly — often waking people up in the middle of the night. The most common symptoms include:
- Intense joint pain — especially in the big toe — that lasts from four to 12 hours
- Lingering discomfort between a few days to a few weeks after the initial severe pain
- Inflammation and redness
- Limited range of motion
What’s the Difference?
While both conditions cause pain, swelling, and disruption to the lives of those who suffer from them, there are some differences between the two. These differences include:
RA can affect any joint in the body, while gout usually affects the big toe joint. While there are cases of gout impacting other joints, it’s very rare. RA is more common for affecting more than one joint.
The pain of RA can be mild, moderate, or severe, while gout pain is often intense. Rheumatoid arthritis is also usually accompanied by stiffness and can be associated with fatigue and loss of appetite. Whereas gout typically just involves pain and isn’t associated with other symptoms.
RA is an autoimmune condition triggered when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in the joints. On the other hand, gout is caused by purine, a type of chemical compound found in foods such as meats, fish, shellfish, vegetables, and some whole grains.
Overconsumption of purines results in high levels of uric acid, which, if not excreted, can cause sharp crystals to form in the joints. These crystals cause inflammation and intense pain associated with gout.
Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is no cure for RA. Treatments aim at controlling joint inflammation and relieving symptoms. Innovations Medical offers real relief for RA sufferers with fat stem cell therapy (see our blog Understanding Adipose-Derived Stem Cells) to help reset the immune system and heal tissues that the condition has damaged.
Treatment for Gout
While gout can typically be treated with medications — such as steroids and pain relievers — these options aren’t always effective. Dietary changes and medications can help reduce the chance of flares, but it doesn’t target the problem or reverse the damage. Stem cell therapy for gout uses fat harvested from your body to treat gout and replace damaged cells. The stem cells will replicate healthy cells and replace the ones that urate crystals have damaged. It will also tell your body to stop inflammation — the cause of gout pain.
Contact Innovations Medical for Stem Cell Therapy
If you’re suffering from RA or gout, Innovations Medical is here for you. Our skilled professionals help you decide which stem cell therapy treatment is best for you – keeping you informed and confident in the next steps. We’ve been helping our patients look and feel their best since 2005, and even our most advanced procedures are often minimally invasive.