Rheumatoid arthritis and gout have a lot in common. Doctors consider them types of arthritis. That means that both cause swelling, pain, and stiffness in joints. But there are important differences between them, too.
Those differences include why they happen. There are also telltale differences in their symptoms that help to distinguish the two. Because the causes are different, doctors also manage and treat them in different ways.
Gout is an inflammatory disorder, but it is not an autoimmune condition. Gout is caused by high blood levels of uric acid that the body cannot excrete properly. These uric acid crystals can deposit in the synovial tissues, causing inflammation and pain.
RA is an autoimmune inflammatory condition. It occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the synovial tissues or linings of the joints, resulting in inflammation, pain, and swelling. It eventually causes joint damages.
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Rheumatoid arthritis and gout both are types of arthritis, but the underlying causes are completely different. RA is an autoimmune condition. It happens when your body’s immune system attacks the tissue that lines your joints. This attack causes painful swelling, inflammation, and joint deformity. Since RA is an immune system disease (your doctor will call it an autoimmune condition), it can affect other parts of the body, too, including the skin, eyes, and heart.
Gout affects people with too much uric acid in their blood. Your body creates this type of acid when it breaks down certain foods, including meat. Your kidneys normally get rid of it when you pee. But when there’s too much of it in your system, the uric acid can form crystals. These needle shaped crystals build up in joints and surrounding tissue where they can cause pain and inflammation.
RA and gout both involve swelling and inflammation, but some symptoms are different. This includes the areas affected and the long-term effects.
Unlike RA, gout does not cause inflammation throughout the body and does not cause damage to tissues in other organs, such as the heart and lungs. However, both RA and gout can involve the kidneys, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
A person with RA will have times when their symptoms worsen and others when they reduce or disappear. Doctors call these flares and remissions.
During the early flares of RA, symptoms may include:
pain, aching, or stiffness in multiple joints
pain and stiffness in joints on both sides of the body, such as both wrists or ankles
RA can lead to progressive and long-term complications, even with medicines. Long-term effects of RA include Trusted Source:
early heart disease
high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes for those with RA and obesity
damage to joint tissue
loss of balance
changes in the appearance and mobility of hands and feet
problems with the heart, lungs, eyes, and other organs
The symptoms of gout can also come and go. An attack can occur when excess uric acid crystals deposit in the joints. A trigger may increase uric acid levels in the body. Those triggers may include ingestion of alcoholic beverages and foods rich in purine, such as some seafoods, meats, and organ meats.
Symptoms of gout in the joints may include:
reduced range of motion
The joint most commonly affected by gout is the big toe, but it can also affect other joints as it progresses. RA is more likely to involve multiple joints at one time and can cause fatigue, low-grade fever, and weight loss.