Although there are many types of arthritis, the two most commonly compared Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis.
Together, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis affect millions of Americans and are the main cause of disability in the United States.
Both affect your joints, but are very different in form.
In this article, we will dive deep to the seven key differences between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis.
1 – Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that your body attacks itself.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease which is a breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the joints causing bones to rub against each other.
Rheumatoid Arthritis influences around one-tenth the same number of individuals as osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common of all arthritis in the US. It affects more than 30 million adults in the United States alone.
Symptoms for Rheumatoid arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis Osteoarthritis Painful, swollen warm joints Pain in a joint during or after movement Fatigue, occasional fever, and a general feeling of discomfort, low appetite Crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone when used Inflammation in hands (wrist and finger joints), neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, or feet Stiffness after periods of inactivity, such as sleeping or sitting The symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis may arise and get worse quickly, sometimes within a few weeks. The symptoms of Osteoarthritis appear more slowly, as the protective tissues in the joints gradually break down.
Even if they are different in a lot of ways, they also share similarities like the below symptoms:
- Joint pain
- Stiffness in joints
- Swelling, which is more severe in RA
- Restricted mobility in affected joints
- Symptoms that are worse in the morning
- They can affect any joint in the body
2 – Rheumatoid Arthritis is 2-3 times more common in women
Rheumatoid Arthritis is 2- 3 times more common in women while Osteoarthritis is more common in men before the age of 45 years old.
Women that are 50 years old and above are more likely to develop Osteoarthritis than men.
3 – Rheumatoid Arthritis can occur at any age
RA can occur at any age while Osteoarthritis oftentimes begin in the middle age.
You may be more likely to get Rheumatoid Arthritis if you have a family member who has it.
Evidence suggests that being a woman, smoking, and being around dangerous chemicals like asbestos or silica may increase your risk.
You’re more likely to develop Osteoarthritis if you:
- Are overweight
- Have joint deformities
- Have diabetes
- Have gout
- Have experienced traumatic injuries to your joints
4 – Joint Pain: Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis
The joint pain for Rheumatoid Arthritis can last over 30 minutes while joint pain for Osteoarthritis often fades within 30 minutes.
5 – Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic disease
RA is a systemic disease which means it can affect your entire body.
Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is solely limited to joint degeneration.
6 – Rheumatoid Arthritis usually begins in the smaller joints
Rheumatoid Arthritis usually begins in the smaller joints.
Pain, stiffness, and swelling would start in the finger joints.
Osteoarthritis, although experiences pain in the hand and fingers, often also affects the spine, hips, and knees.
When you have Rheumatoid Arthritis or Osteoarthritis, reaching that weight goal becomes even more important.
When you have Osteoarthritis: Extra weight puts extra stress on your joints, especially your knees, hips, and low back.
Losing weight gives those joints some relief.
When you have Rheumatoid Arthritis: In addition to taking pressure off your joints, weight loss has other benefits.
Research shows it can reduce disease activity which means it slows the attack on your joints.
7 – Rheumatoid Arthritis is a symmetrical disease
RA lets you experience symptoms on both sides of your body at the same time.
Almost half of people with Rheumatoid Arthritis have stopped participating on some activities.
Osteoarthritis is not a symmetrical disease, although you may sometimes experience symptoms on both sides of the body, one side would always be more painful.
Manifestations regularly start on one side of the body and may spread to the opposite side.
They begin gradually and are often limited to one set of joints, usually the finger joints closest to the fingernails or the thumbs, large weight-bearing joints (hips, knees), or the spine.
Both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis are chronic illnesses and cannot be cured.
However, various treatments can help patients manage their symptoms, improve their quality of life, and slow down the progression of the condition.
Anti-inflammatory and corticosteroid medications are generally effective for both Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, drugs that suppress your immune system can prevent damage by stopping your body from attacking your joints.
While it is possible to have both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis…
Osteoarthritis doesn’t cause Rheumatoid Arthritis, yet Rheumatoid Arthritis can develop to Secondary Osteoarthritis
It is conceivable that Rheumatoid Arthritis caused the joint injury that prompted Secondary Osteoarthritis, or you may have incidental Primary Osteoarthritis in a joint while you have Rheumatoid Arthritis in different areas.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than just your joints.
Primary versus Secondary Osteoarthritis:
Primary Osteoarthritis is related to aging, whereas secondary Osteoarthritis is caused by another disease or condition (Joint Injury, Congenital Joint Deformities, etc.).
Unlike primary Osteoarthritis, secondary Osteoarthritis has a specific cause.
It is also possible to occur in younger people, more likely under age 35.
Treatment for secondary Osteoarthritis begins with managing the underlying cause and getting it under control.
While there is no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis, you can still have a positive outlook with the right treatment.
Should you experience any of the symptoms of chronic joint pain and stiffness, make sure to talk to your doctor immediately.