Osteoarthritis Vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

It is sometimes essential to discuss about osteoarthritis vs rheumatoid arthritis, because generally don’t know the difference between the two. They believe that both the conditions are regarding joints, and therefore, are same. Though both are types of arthritis, there are considerable difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis, which is also known as wear-and-tear arthritis or degenerative joint disease, results from the deterioration of cartilage. Function of cartilage is to provide a cushion between bones of the joint. When it is deteriorated, the bone come in contact with each other and are pressed and rubbed with each other, which gives rise to extreme pain.

On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition, and is classified as an autoimmune disease. This means that our immune system fails to recognize our own tissue and starts gobbling up body’s own healthy tissue. It primarily attacks the synovium of the joint, which is the lining of joints.

Thus, when we compare osteoarthritis vs rheumatoid arthritis, we see that though both the conditions occur in the joints, they affect different parts of the joints.

Osteoarthritis generally occurs in a single joint, while in rheumatoid arthritis, any organ of the body too can get affected. Generally rheumatoid arthritis occurs in multiple joints.

There is a difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis regarding their cause too. Osteoarthritis is a resultant of aging. With growing age, cartilage loses protein content and gains water and become fragile and easy to get deteriorated. Other factors that may cause the condition are injury to the joint, recurrent use of joints or stress, obesity and family history or genetics. On the other hand, the reason for defect in the immune system, which causes rheumatoid arthritis, is not known yet. Though it is not firmly established, some theories point towards genetic inclination and some triggering incident.

When we compare osteoarthritis vs rheumatoid arthritis regarding symptoms, both the conditions show many similarities. Pain and especially morning stiffness are common in both. In rheumatoid arthritis, the stiffness generally withdraws within half an hour, while in osteoarthritis it retains for more than an hour. In RA, pain worsens at times later in the day. Swelling, temperature and redness around the joints are common in both. Additionally, restricted movements and rheumatoid nodules are also common in both.

Osteoarthritis Vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

Diagnostic procedures too are somewhat common for the two. For analyzing the damage to the joints, x-rays are used in both. Arthrocentesis (joint fluid aspiration), joint fluid removal and joint fluid analysis are done in both the conditions and results show which type of condition has occurred. Blood tests are done in osteoarthritis only to rule out other possibilities. For rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid factor test is done, along with ESR, CRP and anti-CCP tests.

Treatment for osteoarthritis contains mainly pain relieving medicines and exercises to restore functions of the affected joints. Medicines include NSAIDs, analgesics, and steroid injections, which are mainly used for pain relief. Physiotherapy, support to the joint, heat therapy, rest and weight loss are important parts of the treatment of osteoarthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis, the treatment mainly consists of medicines, which are of 5 categories, namely biologics, DMARDs, corticosteroids, NSAIDs and analgesics. Sometimes for relieving pain, local steroid injection too may be administered. However, for both the conditions, surgery is the ultimate cure. Arthroscopy, arthrodesis and arthroplasty are the types of surgery.

Another important point of comparison of osteoarthritis vs rheumatoid arthritis is the age at which they may occur. Osteoarthritis occurs generally at the age of 45 in males, and at the age of 55 in females, whereas rheumatoid arthritis can occur even in childhood and is more common in females. Typical age of occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis is 30 to 60.