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Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Published: 2009-05-31 - Updated: 2022-08-02
Author: Disabled World | Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Publications

Synopsis: Osteoarthritis often accompanies aging, and rheumatoid arthritis can occur in any age group and is also found in children and adults. Pain is one of the significant distinguishing factors doctors use to diagnose and identify the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In osteoarthritis, the pain might occur in only one joint, such as the right knee. On the other hand, in rheumatoid arthritis, the pain is generally found in the joints on both sides of the body. For example, there might be a pain in both knees.

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Definition

Arthritis

Arthritis is a general term for conditions affecting joints and surrounding tissues. Joints are places in the body where bones come together, such as the knees, wrists, fingers, toes, and hips. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Main Digest

Arthritis is a broad term used to describe inflammation of the joints. Many different kinds of arthritis exist, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have got some similarities - as well as differences. Their exact causes are not known.

Related Publications:

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common chronic condition of the joints, affecting approximately 27 million Americans (Arthritis Foundation. Osteoarthritis. arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/).

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the third most common type of arthritis, affecting approximately 1.3 million Americans (American College of Rheumatology. Prevalence statistics. rheumatology.org/Learning-Center/Statistics/Prevalence-Statistics).

While osteoarthritis often accompanies aging, rheumatoid arthritis can occur in any age group and is also found in children and adults.

Illustration of knee osteoarthritis.
Illustration of knee osteoarthritis.

Major Signs of Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

1) Pain is a common characteristic in both forms of arthritis.

Pain is also one of the major distinguishing factors doctors use to diagnose and identify the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In osteoarthritis, the pain might occur in only one joint, for example, in the right knee.

On the other hand, in rheumatoid arthritis, the pain is generally found in the joints on both sides of the body. For example, there might be a pain in both knees.

2) "Wear and tear" of the cartilage cushions is the primary reason for osteoarthritis.

The cartilage cushions act as shock absorbers that prevent the joint's bones from rubbing together. When this cartilage is damaged due to overuse or injury, it causes osteoarthritis and leads to inflammation and swelling in the joints.

In rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain and inflammation occur well before any damage occurs in the cartilage cushions. Frequent occurrence of chronic inflammation causes damage to the cartilage and intense pain.

An example of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) of the hand.
An example of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) of the hand.

3) Factors that might lead to the occurrence of osteoarthritis are;

On the other hand, obesity might aggravate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but it does not play any role in developing that condition in the first place.

4) One major difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is that osteoarthritis affects only the joints, while rheumatoid arthritis can also affect many other body parts.

5) What is the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in treatment?

In rheumatoid arthritis, drugs that suppress immune system activity are often prescribed, whereas they are not required in osteoarthritis. However, anti-inflammatory drugs are a common mode of treatment in both forms of arthritis.

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Cite This Page (APA): Disabled World. (2009, May 31). Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Disabled World. Retrieved December 7, 2022 from www.disabled-world.com/health/autoimmunediseases/rheumatoid-arthritis/osteoarthritis-rheumatoid-arthritis.php

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