What are the differences between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Critical Illness

What are the differences between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

7 Mins read

Arthritis refers to inflammation of joints. There are many different types of arthritis, which include osteoarthritis (OA)  and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). While these two types of arthritis have similar characteristics, they have different symptoms and need to be treated differently.

  • It is the most common form of arthritis
  • It is a degenerative disorder caused by wear and tear on joints
  • It usually starts later in life
  • Its onset is usually gradual over the years
  • Joints are painful, but swelling is minimal or non-existent
  • It usually appears on one side of the body first
  • Morning stiffness usually goes away in less than one hour
  • It affects approximately 1/10 as many people as osteoarthritis
  • It is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own joints, regardless of any prior wear and tear
  • It can begin at any stage in life
  • Its onset is comparatively fast, usually over weeks to months
  • Swelling, pain and stiffness are common
  • It often affects symmetrical joints
  • It causes prolonged morning stiffness which usually lasts longer than an hour
  • Frequent physical exhaustion

There is currently no cure for either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are treatments that help manage symptoms, maintain quality of life and slow down the progression of the disease:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Steroid-based medications
  • Physical therapy 
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for rheumatoid arthritis
  • Anti-inflammatory diet
  • Weight management to prevent putting additional stress on joints

If you think you are experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, contact your doctor for a specialist referral to investigate further.

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  1. uwhealth-Comparing Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
  2. healthline-Is It Rheumatoid Arthritis? The Differences Between RA and OA
  3. Medical news today-What's the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis?

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