Great question, Linda. Even we rheumatologists often have trouble distinguishing the two. Osteoarthritis is thought of as a wearing away of cartilage with aging, which in the long terms can result in need for joint replacement due to chronic pain. Although there may be a little inflammation in the joints, this is not a big component of the disease. Psoriatic arthritis, on the other hand, is an inflammatory condition in which the joints become inflamed and damaged as a result of inflammation. It is usually associated with psoriasis, a scaly skin condition that can range from one or two patches to diffuse involvement of the body. The treatments for the two conditions are very different, so a correct diagnosis if key. Usually there is not too much trouble telling the apart, but sometimes because both cause bone spurs, they can look somewhat similar.
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