Difference Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis

Difference Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis
18 Jun 2022
8 mins
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Difference Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Arthritis is a common medical term to signify joint inflammation. There are several types of arthritis but osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are more frequently occurring joint inflammation than others. Let us learn in depth about the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

    Learn To Identify The Difference Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis:


    Osteoarthritis is a joint disorder characterised by the wear and tear of cartilage that leads to enlargement of the affected joint. This disorder mainly involves the hips, neck, knees, lumbar spine and joints of the hands. The risk of osteoarthritis increases progressively with age and almost everyone is likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee or hip joints at some point of their life.

    Cartilage is a slippery, hard tissue that enables smooth joint movement. it is present at the end of each bone. When this tissue deteriorates, the bones rub against each other causing stiffness and pain.

    On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition. While the duty of an immune system is protection against outside invaders, autoimmune conditions make them attack their own cells and tissues. Therefore, even healthy tissues fall prey to the attacks. 

    In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks a tissue called synovium that forms lining in the joints. As a result, the structures in the joints undergo long-term inflammation that ultimately damages other organs too.

    It is also possible to tell the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis through physical examination. The affected part is swollen and hard in OA whereas it will be swollen and tender in RA. 

    How Do I Know If I Have Rheumatoid Arthritis Or Osteoarthritis?


    Both conditions involve inflammation of the joints. Both of them equally hamper the quality of life. So what exactly is the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis? The difference lies in what causes them and the process by which inflammation occurs in the joints. 

    Symptoms, underlying triggers and diagnosis are some parameters which help you identify the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and the treatment also varies according to these factors.

    The exact causes of OA and RA are not known, although they both involve genetic and environmental factors. Many inevitable risk factors like age, genetics and gender are involved in both OA and RA. males increasingly suffer from the symptoms of OA while the opposite is true in case of RA.

    OA & RA Difference In Symptoms:


    Osteoarthritis is considered to be less severe than rheumatoid arthritis. Many people with osteoarthritis experience symptoms as soon as they wake up and after doing activities that cause strain in the joints. The symptoms often fade within 30 minutes of onset. Rheumatoid arthritis often causes tiredness and prolonged stiffness in the morning that usually lasts more than half an hour.

    Rheumatoid arthritis produces pain and inflammation in both sides of the body. For example, if you have pain and inflammation in the left knee, you will have the same symptoms of equal intensity in your right knee too. RA also has the tendency to affect organs that do not have joints like heart, lungs, etc. so it shows general symptoms like fever and tiredness. The same does not happen in case of osteoarthritis. It affects only one joint at a time and the symptoms are limited to that particular joint.

    Can An X-Ray Tell The Difference Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis?


    An X-ray report of the affected joint can effectively tell the structural changes and the extent of joint damage. It clearly indicates whether a person has osteoarthritis or not. However, there are other imaging techniques like CT scan, MRI and ultrasound that can provide sufficient information about the joint damage. Imaging tests give a clear picture that can help your healthcare provider to decide appropriate treatment for you depending on the extent of damage and inflammation.

    Laboratory Methods To Find The Difference Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis:


    Rheumatoid factor and cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody tests are two important lab tests that detect the presence of rheumatoid arthritis. a combination of these tests provide greater results than individual tests. A positive result of these parameters indicates that a person has rheumatoid arthritis. abnormalities in complete blood count reports also suggest presence of RA.

    Treatment Difference Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis:


    The most important thing to do before receiving treatment for your joint pain is discussing the type and severity of joint damage with your physician. Starting the course of treatment early on can help prevent disabilities and relieve your symptoms.

    Osteoarthritis will be managed by your general physician where you will need to take painkillers, topical treatments and injections like corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid. Painkillers, strength training, physical therapy, heat treatment and relaxation helps manage symptoms of both OA and RA. 

    In addition to painkillers and supportive therapies, RA also requires treatment with DMARDs (Disease modifying anti rheumatic drugs) like leflunomide, sulfasalazine, hydroxychloroquine, infliximab, etc that protects your joints from further attack. If the condition progresses, your healthcare team might suggest joint replacement surgery.

    Living with OA or RA:


    Regardless of whether you have OA or RA, either of them can be distressing. Although there is no cure for them, you can still have a good quality of life by modifying your lifestyle. The symptoms and finding the right treatment can be tiring, but make sure that you rest well and avoid stressing yourself. Let your physician know if your symptoms have worsened over time. Clarify whether you can opt for alternative supportive therapies to reduce the impact of symptoms.


    Written by
    BhairaviContent Writer
    AboutPharm D
    Tags :OA RA differenceosteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritisosteoarthritis vs rheumatoid arthritisarthritis