Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid
Arthritis that you must know about

Osteoarthritis Vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) come under the same umbrella term, ‘arthritis.’

Although both share common symptoms and are pretty common in occurrence, they aren’t the same type of bone disease.

OA is more frequent, whereas RA can transpire at any age. OA happens due to mechanical wear and tear of the cartilage; on the other hand, RA is an autoimmune disease. The major difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis is that the degree of inflammation in RA is higher than in OA.

To understand the difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis better, let’s have a look at some more aspects:

More than 300 million people worldwide suffer from Osteoarthritis, and Rheumatoid arthritis (or RA) affects roughly 14 million people of the world population.

Onset of disease – Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

Osteoarthritis develops gradually over time as the joint cartilage wears away. Your joint bones will

eventually, rub against each other.

In contrast, the pain and stiffness associated with Rheumatoid arthritis can develop and worsen over weeks or months. Nonetheless, joint pain isn’t always the first sign of rheumatoid arthritis. It could also start with “flu-like” symptoms like fatigue, fever, weakness, and mild joint aches.

Another facet that shows an apparent difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis is joint stiffness. Mild joint stiffness is common in osteoarthritis patients in the morning and after an hour or more of inactivity during the day. The stiffness and pain improve as the joints are used and moved more, even after a few minutes.

Morning stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, can last an hour or more. As a result, prolonged morning joint stiffness is sometimes the first symptom of rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms – Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Joint discomfort: This can range from aching to burning to sharp pain. Osteoarthritis usually
  • affects the knees, hips, spine, hands, and feet, but it can also affect other joints.
  • In the morning, there is stiffness. With movement, this disappears.
  • Muscle weakness in the area surrounding the affected joint. This is a common problem with the knee joint.
  • Joints that are deformed, especially as arthritis progresses.
  • Reduced range of motion and decreased joint use This happens as the severity of arthritis worsens.
  • Creaking and cracking; medically referred to as ‘crepitus.’

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis include:

  • Swelling, stiffness, and pain Hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles are the most commonly affected joints.
  • Inflammation: Inflammation, if not controlled, can cause permanent and irreversible joint
  • damage.
  • Bumpy or nodule-like growths. These can form over the elbows and knuckles in some cases.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a system disease that affects the entire body and can affect both sides of the body at the same time. For example, while osteoarthritis may affect only the right or left knee, rheumatoid arthritis may affect both knees at the same time.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the eyes, lungs, heart, nerves, and blood vessels in severe
  • cases. For example, RA can increase your risk of heart disease by 50%.

Diagnosis – Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

Diagnosis of the diseases will clarify further the difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Diagnosis – Osteoarthritis

Dr. Rik Kundra is diligent with every case. To understand your problem even better, he asks you about your symptoms while examining you to rule out other conditions:

  • What words do you use to describe your anguish? Is it burning, aching, or stinging?
  • Do you suffer from morning joint stiffness? If so, then how long does the stiffness last?
  • Do your tendons and ligaments swell?

To determine whether you have arthritis, your doctor will examine you for joint tenderness and swelling, as well as muscle weakness. In addition, Dr. Rik may ask for X-rays to look for joint damage or blood tests to see if any other conditions are causing your pain.

Diagnosis – Rheumatoid Arthritis

In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, early diagnosis is always important. Joint damage can occur within a year of being diagnosed with the disease, and this may turn out to be permanent.

Dr. Rik being very meticulous with each case that comes by, may perform a physical exam to look for signs of swelling or tenderness in your joints. He also ensures to inquire about your symptoms and medical history.

Dr. Rik may also order Blood tests, X-rays, and other tests to have a deeper insight into the cause of your distress.

Treatment – Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

When it comes to the treatment aspect, there is a slight difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Treatment – Osteoarthritis

Treatment varies from person to person. Although osteoarthritis cannot be reversed, the symptoms can still be managed. Our bone specialist, Dr. Rik Kundra, will consult with you to determine the best course of action for you:

  • Pain reliever – Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs can be advised to treat mild pain. However, if these methods do not relieve your pain, Dr. Rik may prescribe a stronger pain reliever. Moreover, some people benefit from shots of medicine (Steroid injections) in the joint.
  • Ice or heat – Heat may aid in the relaxation of the muscles surrounding the affected joint. After activity or exercise, ice can help to reduce pain and swelling. Dr. Rik may prescribe a gel or cream to alleviate joint pain.
  • If you are overweight, you should lose weight. Weight loss reduces the strain on your joints. Every pound of body-weight loss relieves 3-5 pounds of strain on the lower extremity joints.
  • Exercise – Muscle strength can reduce joint stress by offloading the joint itself. Movement is the most effective treatment for osteoarthritis. Consult your doctor about the best type of activity for you.
  • Surgery – If other treatment methods do not relieve pain in a joint, such as your hip or knee, your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery.

Treatment – Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Treatment consists of medication, exercise, and lifestyle changes that must be maintained throughout one’s life. Seeking an appointment with our orthopedic for treatment as soon as possible can help control the condition and keep it from worsening.
  • Because many RA medications have side effects, it is critical to see your doctor as per schedule.
  • If your pain and joint function worsen despite medication, exercise, and lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend surgery, such as total hip or knee replacement.
  • To make your life easier if you have rheumatoid arthritis, try these tips:

  • First, rest when you’re tired.
  • Use splints, canes, walkers, and other assistive devices. For example, you could use special kitchen gadgets or doorknobs to protect your joints.
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet.
  • Regular exercise is essential.

FAQs – Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Here, we list out some typical questions that you might have about the difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis:

Is it possible that I develop both RA and OA?

Yes, it is possible to have both RA and OA at the same time.

While OA usually develops after years of cartilage wear and tear, people with RA may develop it at an early stage of life due to causes such as sports injuries that cause cartilage, joints, or ligament damage.

People who have RA may develop OA as they age. People over the age of 65 who have OA may develop a condition known as elderly-onset RA.

Which is the more painful when compared?

The intensity of arthritis pain varies from person to person.

People suffering from OA or RA may experience mild to severe pain and difficulty moving affected

Joints. While people with OA may experience morning stiffness that lasts less than 30 minutes, people

with RA experience it for much longer. Other unpleasant symptoms associated with RA include fever and fatigue.

In Conclusion

Having stated all the above facts, to have a clearer picture about the difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, it is also vital to select an apt healthcare provider who can lead you with professional guidance. We will be glad to assist you in exploring your treatment options since we have extensive expertise in treating arthritis and joint inflammation. Contact Dr. Rik Kundra for a specific and tailored course of treatment.


All content and media on this page are created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Meet Dr. Rik personally for appropriate medical diagnosis and advice.

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