What Is The Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Posted on December 31st, 2021 by Orthopaedic Specialty Group

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are forms of arthritis that cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. However, both these conditions have very different causes and treatments. 

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is more common than rheumatoid arthritis and affects millions of people worldwide, especially the elderly. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective layer of cartilage cushioning the ends of the bones in your joints becomes worn down. Though this joint damage can occur in any body area, it is most commonly seen in the hands, knees, hips, and spine. 

This type of arthritis tends to develop slowly, and the cartilage will wear over time with overuse and aging. Stiffness, pain, inflammation, and tenderness in the affected area are all common symptoms of osteoarthritis. Medications, exercise, healthy eating, and therapy are all helpful ways of managing osteoarthritis symptoms, and in some cases, damage can be reversed with surgery. 

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, thinking they are harmful. Unlike osteoarthritis caused by wear and tear, rheumatoid arthritis directly affects the lining of your joints, leading to serious pain, swelling, and potentially bone erosion and deformity of the area. The inflammation resulting from this condition can also lead to complications with other body systems, including the skin, heart, blood vessels, eyes, and lungs. 

Most commonly, rheumatoid arthritis will first affect smaller joints in the fingers, hands, toes, and feet. Symptoms of this condition include tender, warm, stiff, and inflamed joints, fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite. As the illness progresses, these symptoms can spread to other joints in the body. When it comes to treatment, a combination of medications, therapy, and surgery is used to manage symptoms. 

For comprehensive arthritis treatment, contact the Orthopaedic Specialty Group!

It’s crucial to seek expert medical treatment if you struggle with problems or pain associated with your bones or joints. Give the professionals at Orthopaedic Specialty Group a call at (203) 337-2600, and let us know how we can help you! Don’t let that pain hold you back from living your life. Your health and safety are our top priority.