A Comparison Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis Pain
Arthritis Pain

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis lead to stiffness and pain in our joints. These are among the many different types of arthritis. RA is not as common as OA, and these diseases occur due to different reasons and have different treatments. Both come with joint inflammation. That said, it is worth noting that rheumatoid arthritis results in more severe inflammation as compared to osteoarthritis.

Both kinds of arthritis have some common symptoms. Polyarticular rheumatoid arthritis affects joints, plus it often has a symmetrical effect on the body. Typically, OA affects some joints and develops on just a single body side. Keep reading this osteoarthritis vs rheumatoid arthritis comparison post for more differences and some similarities between the two.

There are tissues that keep one bone from brushing against another. For instance, cartilage lies on top of one’s bones to make even movement in their joint possible. Arthritis causes damage to this particular tissue.

Joint damage occurs in both sorts of arthritis due to different reasons.

Criteria Rheumatoid Arthritis Osteoarthritis
Occurrence Occurs less frequently Occurs more commonly
Inflammation More severe Less severe
Affected Joints Pattern Usually affects small and big joints on either body sides Usually occurs on a single side
Systemic Symptoms It has whole-body symptoms It lacks the symptoms
Treatment Not easily treatable Comparatively easier to treat

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This inflammatory disorder happens when one’s immune system wrongly attacks normal tissues in their joints. Many different things including smoking play a role in this particular immune reaction.


In osteoarthritis, the bones start to brush against each other, and the cartilage wears down over time. This gradual damage occurs due to repetitive movements, which put stress on one’s joints.

The Symptoms

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have numerous symptoms, which include the following.

  • Joint pain;
  • Joint stiffness;
  • Inflammation;
  • Limited mobility in the affected joints; and,
  • Symptoms that worsen at the start of the day.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may not only occur but also worsen fast. Osteoarthritis symptoms show up more slowly than rheumatoid arthritis’s symptoms because the protective joint tissues gradually wear down. However, osteoarthritis stressors like hiking may lead to a sudden, serious inflammation in your knee.

The Effects

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can have a negative effect on any joint. The former kind of arthritis will most likely have an effect on joints in the knees, the pinkie and the thumb. The latter usually develops in the fingers, hands, knees, hips, and elbows, plus it typically affects the same left and right side joints. For instance, when it affects a hand, it has an effect on the other second hand too. It tends to just affect a single side.

Osteoarthritis has an effect on just the structure where multiple skeleton parts are joined, and the tissues around it, so it is localized. Conversely, rheumatoid arthritis affects more than one joint. Rheumatoid arthritis has various symptoms that have an effect on the whole body. Conversely, there are no systemic symptoms in osteoarthritis, even though it could develop bone issues including bone spurs. For instance, hand osteoarthritis tends to bring about lumps around the edges of the joints in the finger.


Healthcare professionals note down one’s medical past and perform many different tests, to identify the nature of both arthritis types. It is not easy to diagnose the two health conditions because their symptoms overlap, especially in the beginning phases. Blood tests help to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis because RA has some biomarkers.

Medical professionals may examine to determine whether the C-reactive protein (CRP) antibody levels are unusual. CRP antibody is one marker indicating inflammation. They may do imaging tests too to find out the position and level of damage in either form of arthritis. If you are experiencing any previously mentioned symptoms consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Both are chronic kinds of arthritis without any cure. Even so, many different treatments help one to handle their arthritis symptoms, improve their standard of health, and reduce the disease development speed. Medicines like NSAIDs for inflammation may be part of your arthritis treatment. Easing inflammation through those drugs can help to alleviate joint pain and joint stiffness, plus make the range of motion better.

Doctors may prescribe steroid-based drugs to lessen inflammation too. When injecting steroids into the arthritis-affected joints to lessen it instantly, the medical professionals will possibly do so.

They recommend consuming disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, usually along with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or biologics and steroids. DMARDs might suppress the human immune system, thereby reducing the damage it leaves on joint tissues.

Physical therapy tends to be part of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis treatments. The therapy helps to not just make an individual more mobile but also keep their joints flexible.

It can be useful to eat healthy anti-inflammatory food items regularly. Keeping a healthy body weight potentially prevents the need for putting too much stress on your joints. Quit smoking when you have rheumatoid arthritis. It and osteoarthritis can worsen gradually when the treatment is inappropriate. Both can have mild to serious impacts on one’s day-to-day life.

In many cases, treating osteoarthritis is easier as compared to rheumatoid arthritis. The development of the latter arthritis is not as predictable as the former.