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Differentiation between Osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid Arthritis

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have different causes and treatments but similar symptoms.

Arthritis is a broad term that gives rise to joint diseases. There are many types of diseases. It affects people of all ages and genders, however, the two women mentioned are more common.

Osteoarthritis or OA is a degenerative disease where the cartilage which cushions the bones in the joints begins to wear down. This exposes the veins and causes the bones to rub against each other, causing pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is an autoimmune disorder where the human immune system becomes defective and begins to attack the tissue in the joints. This affects the mobility of lubricating fluids and hampers.

Indications of OA & RA

Even though both have symptoms of arthritis, osteoarthritis is a deformity of bone and cartilage showing symptoms in the joints. RA is a systemic disorder that affects the immune system, thus affecting the entire body. Some common symptoms for both are as follows:

  • Joint pain, stiffness
  • Limited range of movement
  • Swelling or tenderness in the affected hands or knees
  • Stiffening soon after waking up in the morning

RA usually affects small joints, inflammation, swelling, and the presence of nodules near them. Morning stiffness lasts for several hours, which is a typical sign.

OA is visible mostly in the knees, hips, and spine in addition to the hands. The morning stiffness is reduced in one to two hours.

Although the above signs appear in both OA and RA, the nature, onset, and location of symptoms vary.

The difference in the onset of disease

Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative arthritis. Due to factors such as age, bone health, and lifestyle, the soft cartilage in your joints undergoes wear and tear. The condition does not occur suddenly but develops slowly (unless there is an accident or injury).

The cartilage cushions the bones against each other and makes the movement smooth and pain-free. Damage to cartilage makes bones rub each other and causes joint pain and stiffness. The condition gradually worsens if left untreated.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an inflammatory condition in which the body’s own immune system begins to attack joint tissues. It can happen all of a sudden and at any age. Symptoms are usually common, are not limited to the joints only, and become acute in a few weeks or months.

The first symptoms are common flu-like fever, fatigue, weakness, and mild pain. RA can appear in any joint, however, it usually targets the hands, wrists, and feet.

The Difference in Risk Factors & Treatment 


Risk factors for OA include obesity, genetics, age, and injuries such as tears. Treatment is very advanced, contrary to common beliefs that osteoarthritis is a sedentary aspect of crippling and aging. One can grow old now with good bone health and function.

The treatments are aimed at saving joints, reducing discomfort, and improving range of motion and mobility.

Dr. Tanveer Bhutani of Eva Orthopedic Care says, “OAT can be curbed with regular physical activity, maintaining weight, dietary supplements, accessories, NSAIDs, and avoiding repetitive stressful tasks.

Especially in severe cases of damaged joints. There is an answer in total replacement. The quality of life for such patients improves after Artificial joint implantation. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Risk factors for RA include hereditary and environmental factors. According to research, lifestyle habits such as smoking can also trigger immune system disorders that can be genetically passed on to children.

Treatment for inflammatory arthritis mandates early diagnosis and controversial therapy. Ignoring the disease, delaying, or negligent consultation with an orthopedic surgeon can cause permanent damage to your health.

Treatment includes the use of antidepressants or specific drugs modifying DMARDs. The aim of the medicines is to reduce pain, improve function and do more harm to all joints in the body.

Help yourself

Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis must be dealt with through the right approach from the doctor as well as the patient. Getting a quick and accurate diagnosis of your joint problems is the primary thing that you can do.

Talk to your orthopedic specialist at Eva Hospital about your symptoms. Discuss diagnoses and lifestyle changes that you can incorporate to protect your joint health from further damage.

Arthritis is not something you have to deal with for your whole life. With the right treatment and care, you can live a healthy and active life.

About The Author

Tanveer Bhutani
Eva Hospital encompasses various modern orthopedic practices pioneered by the prominent orthopedic surgeon in Ludhiana “Dr. Tanveer Singh Bhutani”.