How to Know the Difference Between MS and Arthritis

MS and rheumatoid arthritis are both autoimmune diseases, and symptoms can confuse even the most seasoned medical doctors. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Knowing the difference between MS and rheumatoid arthritis makes all the difference when it comes to seeking treatment that relieves pain, increases mobility and improves function and quality of life.

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If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Look at and feel your joints. Are they inflamed? Are they sore and red. Are they warm? Such symptoms are common in those who are suffering from arthritis. According to the Mayo Clinic, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis causes joint pain, tender joints, joint swelling and can cause stiffness especially upon waking 2. Individuals diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis may see or feel reddened joints and bumps under the skin, especially on the arms. Rheumatoid arthritis causes bone loss, eroded cartilage and a thickening of the synovial membrane. Osteoporosis causes bone spurs, changes in the synovial sac protecting the joint and changes in the thickness of the synovial lining. MS sufferers experience gradually weakening muscles and numbness or tingling sensations that are neural in origin, and not caused by bone loss. Fatigue, partial weakness and vision loss are common, as is trembling and dizziness.

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Research the difference between arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Arthritis is most commonly a bone and joint disease. MS is a neuro-muscular disease. The Mayo Clinic is a great resource for those wishing to learn more about these disease processes, symptoms and treatments 2.

Check symptoms with your doctor. Symptoms for each disease process are different and may occur very gradually. Arthritis, regardless of type, mainly causes dull, aching throbbing pain in the joints. MS will cause electrical-like shocks of pain along any nerve route, and in many types of movement. MS is caused by a degeneration of the myelin sheath (a protective outer coating) of nerves, which leads to severe pain in any part of the body the myelin sheath is affected.

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Visit your doctor to determine a diagnosis. MS is difficult to diagnose because it presents differently for every individual. It may take months or years to properly diagnose MS. Diagnosis should come from a neurologist. Diagnosis for arthritis is fairly straightforward and may be determined by a simple series of X-rays or other imaging techniques.

Take action to get a diagnosis and treatment for your condition. Knowing the difference between the two diseases and understanding the effects and symptoms of arthritis and multiple sclerosis are the first steps toward diagnosis and treatment.


Don't wait until symptoms worsen. If you think you have either arthritis or multiple sclerosis, seek the advise of your health care provider. Be precise when describing symptoms and keep in touch with your physician until a diagnosis and effective treatment are offered.


Never attempt to self-diagnose any medical condition. Seek the advice of a medical practitioner for treatment of any medical condition.