Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Difference
july 10, 2023 | 4 Mins Read
TABLE OF CONTENTS
When it comes to joint problems, two names often pop up: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Yes, both trouble your joints and can lead to discomfort and pain, but they are not the same. They have different causes, symptoms, and treatments.
In this easy-to-understand guide, we'll help you figure out the differences between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. We'll highlight their unique traits and explain how to tell one from the other. By the end of this article, you'll have a clearer picture of these two common types of arthritis and how they affect the body.
Osteoarthritis, often referred to as "wear and tear" arthritis, is the most common form of arthritis. It primarily affects the joints, causing the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones to wear down over time. As a degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis tends to develop gradually and is commonly associated with aging. However, it can also occur as a result of joint injury or excessive stress on the joints.
The exact cause of osteoarthritis is still not fully understood. However, certain risk factors contribute to its development. These include:
In contrast to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by chronic inflammation in the joints. Unlike wear and tear arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of any age, including children, and is more prevalent in women than in men.
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. However, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium, a thin layer of tissue that lines the joints, causing inflammation. Over time, this inflammation can lead to damage and erosion of the joint cartilage and bone.
Comparing osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in terms of severity is challenging, as their progression and impact can differ. RA is more difficult to predict, while OA tends to have more predictable symptoms limited to the affected joints.
Nevertheless, OA can still be debilitating. Both conditions cause disability and loss of function, but RA has treatments that can slow down the disease and achieve remission. In contrast, OA progresses over time and may require surgery in the future.
Remission in RA refers to a period of few or no symptoms.
Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are two common types of arthritis, yet their treatment approaches differ significantly due to the nature of the diseases.
Currently, there is no cure for OA. The focus of treatment is to manage symptoms and improve the quality of life. Treatment may include:
RA is a chronic autoimmune condition without a cure. However, treatments can help manage symptoms and slow disease progression. Treatment may include:
Both OA and RA require a personalized treatment plan, which should be developed in consultation with a healthcare provider.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) typically exhibits symmetrical symptoms, where patients experience pain in the same joints on both sides of the body, commonly in the feet and hands. On the other hand, osteoarthritis (OA) usually starts in a single joint, such as the knee, fingers, hands, spine, or hips. Although both sides may be affected, one side tends to be more painful than the other.
Claire Evans worked as the content marketing manager at Koprez. Claire combined a background of writing and editing, marketing, and patient education to best serve consumers, fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and anyone who relies on the Koprez brand for helpful information.
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