Is It Really Arthritis? 5 Conditions That Can Fool You
New aches, pains, and twinges in the joints naturally make adults of a certain age wonder, "Is it arthritis?" Often, the answer is yes: [Arthritis] is the leading cause of disability in people over age 55. Arthritis is a blanket name for more than 100 different conditions causing joint damage. The most common are osteoarthritis (or OA, caused by wear and tear) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA, an immune disorder).
But some aches are neither OA nor RA, but a distant relative in the arthritis family -- or not arthritis at all. How can you tell?
Is It Arthritis -- or Tendinitis?
How they're the same: Like some types of arthritis, tendinitis is caused by damaging overuse of the joint -- usually the shoulders, elbows ("tennis elbow"), knees, hips, wrists, heels.
Both arthritis and tendinitis can cause pain that worsens with overuse. The inflammation both conditions can create makes the affected area tender and painful to move.
How they're different: Tendinitis is a specific kind of injury to the tendons, tough cords of tissue that connect muscles and bones. It tends to cause pain over a wider area than arthritis, which is limited to the joint.
Also, tendinitis can heal relatively quickly with simple measures such as rest, ice, pain medication, and physical therapy, because it's an injury. Arthritis doesn't go away with treatment or time; it's a chronic (ongoing) condition that you learn to minimize and live with.