Are arthritis and arthralgia the same? Joint pain is one of the most common medical issues affecting adults and children alike. Some medical professionals attribute joint pain to arthritis or arthralgia, while others distinguish between the two conditions. Learn more about the similarities and differences below.
The Difference Between Arthralgia and Arthritis
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis involves joint inflammation, which involves both pain and swelling. It may also involve stiffness, redness, warmth, and loss of mobility and/or function in a particular joint.
What Is Arthralgia?
Arthralgia refers to joint pain. Some organizations such as the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) define arthralgia as pain or aches in the joints without swelling, which is a requirement for arthritis. Other organizations like Johns Hopkins Medicine include swelling as a symptom of arthralgia, allowing for more overlap between the two conditions.
What Symptoms Do Arthritis and Arthralgia Share?
Arthritis and arthralgia share symptoms. These include:
- Joint pain
- Reduced joint mobility
Most cases of arthralgia are limited to these symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?
Arthritis is usually a more serious condition that includes the above symptoms along with the following:
- Joint swelling
- Joint deformation
- Deterioration of bone and cartilage
- Sharp pain from bone-on-bone scraping (osteoarthritis)
- Complete loss of joint function
Certain conditions such as gout, psoriasis, lupus, and infections can lead to arthritis. Arthralgia may be a symptom of arthritis or can arise from injury, illness, or infection.
What Causes Arthritis?
Many factors can cause or contribute to the development of arthritis and arthralgia. Risk varies from person and person and involves many lifestyle and environmental factors. In general, joint pain, and swelling from arthritis can stem from the following:
- Joint injury
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the loss of joint cartilage, leading to bones scraping against each other. Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune disorder that results in the loss of the membrane protecting the joints, leading to swelling and inflammation.
What Causes Arthralgia?
Arthralgia is has a broader pool of causes and risk factors, which may or may not be linked to arthritis. The most common cause is physical injury to the joint including strains, sprains, and dislocation.
Arthralgia can also arise from the following illnesses:
- Tendinitis (tendon inflammation)
- Hypothyroidism (inability of the thyroid to produce certain hormones)
- Bone cancer
What Are the Home Remedies for Arthritis & Arthralgia?
As with all medical conditions, prevention is the best cure for arthritis and arthralgia. Regular exercise can strengthen the bones and muscles protecting the joints. Exercise and a balanced diet promote healthy body weight, which can alleviate pressure on the joints. Low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, and resistance band strength training are generally safer than running on hard surfaces and lifting heavy weights. Make sure to get adequate rest to allow your body to recover.
Hot or cold compresses can provide temporary relief from joint pain and stiffness. If symptoms persist, consider taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen (can help reduce swelling), both of which are available over the counter.
For intense joint pain and/or swelling, seek immediate medical attention. A doctor can prescribe medication, recommend exercises, or schedule a surgery depending on the severity of the symptoms.
For more information about arthralgia, check out this video from Audiopedia:
Not every joint pain is a symptom of arthritis. In the same way, too much pain doesn’t necessarily mean you have arthralgia. Distinguish between the symptoms and try out the appropriate home remedy. If you still don’t know what’s causing you constant pain, seek a doctor’s advice.
Can you distinguish between arthritis and arthralgia now? Which symptoms helped you determine one from the other? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.