Multiple Sclerosis Vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Senior sewing
A woman with arthritic hands is cutting some fabric. (Image: Gitanna/iStock/Getty Images)

Multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis are both chronic and crippling diseases that affect the quality of a patient's life. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints, while multiple sclerosis affects the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include morning stiffness lasting more than an hour, fatigue, muscle aches, a poor appetite and weakness. In some cases, it can lead to hand and feet deformities, as well as problems moving. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis include muscle spasms, loss of balance, constipation, weakness, double vision and urinary incontinence.

Features

Rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis are both autoimmune diseases, when the body's own immune cells attack it. Specifically, the immune cells attack the joints in rheumatoid arthritis, and attack the nerve fibers in multiple sclerosis.

Population

MedlinePlus says that multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis typically affect more women than men. People stricken with multiple sclerosis are usually between 20 and 40 years of age. However, both diseases can strike anybody at any age.

Treatment

Both multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis can be treated with medications. Anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids and antimalarial medications can treat rheumatoid arthritis, while interferons, antidepressants, methotrexate and cyclophosphamide can treat multiple sclerosis. Both diseases can benefit from physical therapy sessions.

Prognosis

MedlinePlus indicates that rheumatoid arthritis sufferers' average life expectancy is shortened by three to seven years. Multiple sclerosis sufferers typically return to normal between attacks but eventually become wheelchair bound.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2018 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.