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Conditions that can mimic arthritis pain

Conditions that can mimic arthritis pain
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Joint pain is extremely common, about one-third of adults experience it regularly. If your joints are giving you grief – and you don’t have a recent injury to blame – osteoarthritis (OA) is a likely cause. The condition, in which the joint becomes inflamed as the cartilage between the bones wears away, has more than 2.2 million Australians in agony, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Even though the condition can’t be cured, over the counter medications, prescription drugs, and surgery can help ease the ache.

But OA isn’t the only health condition that can cause joints to become tender and stiffen. Before you reach for anti-inflammatories, read on to see if you could be suffering from one of these conditions which can mimic arthritis pain.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia
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Arthritis can be mistaken for fibromyalgia as they share many of the same symptoms, like muscle pain, limited range of motion, and joint stiffness, especially in the morning. The difference? With fibromyalgia, the pain is often body-wide, while arthritis tends to be localised to a few joints, says orthopaedic surgeon Dr Alexis Colvin.

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Tendinitis

Tendinitis
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“Tendinitis and osteoarthritis can feel very similar,” says Dr Colvin. “Pain, stiffness, and swelling are common symptoms in both.” This makes distinguishing between the two even harder. With both conditions, the pain doesn’t usually come from one event, but gradually increases over time, says Dr Colvin. If you’re unsure what’s causing your joint to act up, see your doctor. X-rays and MRI imaging can help doctors determine which condition is causing the pain, so they can help you find relief.

Read on some surprising truths about arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis
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There are actually more than 100 different forms of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases, and many have similar symptoms. “Rheumatoid arthritis, in particular, feels very similar to osteoarthritis, in terms of discomfort,” says Dr Colvin. But while osteoarthritis is often caused by general wear and tear in a joint, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. One sign that your creaky joints might be caused by rheumatoid arthritis: you have a close relative with the condition. “RA often runs in families,” says Dr Colvin.

Lupus

Lupus
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Like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system turns on normal, healthy tissue. According to the Australian Society of Immunology and Allergy, an estimated 20,000 Australians and New Zealanders are affected by the disease. Around 90 per cent of people with lupus are women between the ages of 15 and 45.

Find out which silent lupus symptoms you should never ignore.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome
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You wake up and your hand is achy and tingly. Is it arthritis acting up, or something else? Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain, weakness, and numbness that runs from the forearm to the hand. These symptoms indicate that repetitive movements like typing or playing an instrument are pinching your carpal nerve. Women are three times more likely than men to have carpal tunnel syndrome. The thumb, index, and middle fingers are usually the first to feel pain.

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Lyme disease

Lyme disease
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In addition to a rash, fatigue, and overall malaise, Lyme disease – an infection caused by a type of bacterium transferred when an individual is bitten by a vector, usually a tick – often causes aches in the joints, according to the Lyme Disease Association of Australia. “Many times people don’t know that they’ve been bitten by a tick,” says Dr Colvin, so it’s easy to mistake the pain for arthritis. “If someone comes in with knee pain and swelling but no explanation, doctors can drain fluid, and test it for Lyme,” says Dr Colvin. If the results are positive, they can prescribe antibiotics.

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Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis
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Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease that develops in around 10 to 20 per cent of people who have the scaly skin condition psoriasis, according to Arthritis Australia. Usually, psoriasis develops first, with the joint problems coming later, but in some cases, joint pain can be the first system, notes the Mayo Clinic. Psoriatic arthritis can target any joint in the body, but people often notice their fingers and spine ache most. Psoriatic arthritis never goes away, but it can be managed with drugs and lifestyle changes.

Gout

Gout
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Think you have arthritis in your hip or big toe? It might actually be gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis, says Dr Colvin. The pain and swelling from gout occur when too much uric acid crystallises in the blood, then builds up in the joints. The result: extreme pain in the joint that may come and go, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, if your doctor diagnoses gout, medications can be prescribed to help keep symptoms in check, says Dr Colvin.

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Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism
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Some people with a sluggish thyroid can experience arthritis-like joint pain and swelling – especially in the shoulders and hips according to the Mayo Clinic.  Here’s why: as your metabolism slows down, fluid can build up in the joints, causing the achy symptoms. But it’s more likely that you’ll notice the condition’s other symptoms first, such as fatigue, hair loss, and increased sensitivity to cold. If you are diagnosed with an underactive thyroid, your physician can prescribe synthetic hormones to treat the small butterfly-shaped gland.

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Source: RD.com

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