9 things you think might be arthritis, but aren’t

Your joints are sore, stiff, and swollen. Ordinary arthritis could be the culprit. But so could these other similar conditions.

The joint pain is extremely common. In a poll Nationally, about a third of adults reported experiencing it in the past 30 days. If your joints are causing you pain, 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 down, has more than 30 million Americans in agony, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Other possible causes of joint pain besides arthritis

But OA is not the only health condition that can cause the joints to become tender and stiff. Before taking ibuprofen, read on to see if you could be suffering from one of these conditions that can mimic arthritis pain.

1. Fibromyalgia

Arthritis is often confused with fibromyalgia, according to the Arthritis Foundation. They share many of the same symptoms, such as muscle pain, limited range of motion, and joint stiffness, especially in the morning. The difference? With fibromyalgia, the pain often spreads throughout the body, while arthritis tends to localize to a few joints.

2. Tendinitis

Tendonitis and osteoarthritis can feel very similar. Pain, stiffness and swelling are common symptoms in both and it can be very misleading to tell them apart.

With both conditions, the pain usually does not come from an event, but increases gradually over time. If you are not sure what is causing your joint to hurt, see your doctor. X-rays and MRIs can help doctors determine which condition is causing the pain so they can help you find relief.

3. Rheumatoid arthritis

Actually, there are over 100 different forms of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases, according to the Arthritis Foundation, and many have similar symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis, in particular, feels very similar to osteoarthritis, in terms of discomfort. But while osteoarthritis is often caused by general wear and tear on a joint, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease.

A sign that your sore joints could be due to rheumatoid arthritis: Do you have a close relative with the condition? RA is often hereditary, however, through favorable changes in habits (physical activity, changes in diet and adequate supplementation, and a positive approach) can be great allies to slow its progress or reverse its effects.

4. Lupus

Like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system activates normal, healthy tissue. It is estimated that in certain countries 1 in every 1000 inhabitants suffers from the chronic disease, which affects nine times more women than men.

In addition to joint pain that can look like arthritis, lupus also causes other surprising symptoms. If you have more than four of them, it might be advisable to consult a specialist doctor.

5. Carpal tunnel syndrome

You wake up and your hand hurts and tingles. Is it arthritis that works or is it something else? Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain, weakness, and numbness that spreads from the forearm to the hand – these symptoms indicate that repetitive movements such as writing or playing an instrument are pinching the 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.

6. Lyme disease

In addition to a rash, fatigue and malaise, Lyme disease, an infection caused by a type of bacteria carried by deer ticks, often causes joint pain, according to the American Lyme Disease Foundation.

If someone arrives with pain and swelling in the knee, but without explanation, doctors can drain the fluid and test it for Lyme. If the results are positive, they can prescribe antibiotics.

7. Psoriasis arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease that develops in about 30 percent of people with psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Typically, psoriasis develops first and joint problems appear later, but in some cases, joint pain may be the first system, notes the Mayo Clinic.

Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint in the body, but people often find that the fingers and spine are the most painful points. Psoriatic arthritis never goes away, but it can be controlled with medicine and lifestyle changes.

8. Gout

Do you think you have arthritis in your hip or big toe? It could actually be gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis. The pain and swelling of gout occurs when too much uric acid crystallizes in the blood and then builds up in the joints. The result: extreme joint pain that can come and go.

Fortunately, if your doctor diagnoses gout, they can prescribe medications to help keep symptoms under control.

9. Hypothyroidism

Some people with a slow thyroid may experience joint pain and swelling similar to arthritis, especially in the shoulders and hips. Here’s why: As your metabolism slows, fluid can build up in your joints, causing pain symptoms.

But you’re more likely to notice the other symptoms of the condition first, such as fatigue, hair loss, and increased sensitivity to cold. If you are diagnosed with an underactive thyroid, your doctor may prescribe synthetic hormones to treat the small butterfly-shaped gland.


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