All of us at some point have heard either of the terms “Osteoarthritis” or “Rheumatoid arthritis.” The symptoms are same characterized by pain, swelling, redness in the joints. But do you know that both these health problems are different from each other in many ways? Go through this article to understand the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are two different types of arthritis. They have similar symptoms like pain, swelling, stiffness of the joints, etc. but the cause and treatment for both are different. Therefore an accurate diagnosis is essential for an effective treatment.

Osteoarthritis is mainly caused by the mechanical wear and tear of the joints whereas rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease where the body’s immune system will interfere with the proper functioning of the joints.

Symptoms by which you can differentiate between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms Osteoarthritis Rheumatoid arthritis
Occurrence Slow progressive, usually over the years. Occurs more rapidly than osteoarthritis, like within a few weeks to months
Age when the disease may occur Later stages of life, usually after 45 to 50 years. May happen in any age group.


Changes in the joints


Joint pain, tenderness, little or no swelling. Pain in joints, swelling, and stiffness.


Affected joints The joints usually affected in osteoarthritis are large weight-bearing joints like hip, knee joint or the spine. It may also affect finger joints or thumb etc. Usually, the symptoms are seen on one side of the body and gradually may also spread to the other side. In rheumatoid arthritis, both the small and large joints are affected symmetrically on both sides of the body like both the hands or wrists or elbows.




Morning stiffness



Morning stiffness lasts less than an hour. Usually, stiffness occurs after activity at the end of the day.


Morning stiffness lasts more than an hour and gradually subsides with mild activity.


Other associated symptoms No other symptom is seen in other parts of the body due to osteoarthritis. Fatigue and generalized weakness or feeling of illness may be seen in the patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Management of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis:

The main objective for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is to reduce the symptoms like pain, swelling, and stiffness, etc. With treatment, joint mobility and function should improve with minimizing the damage to the joints. Generally anti-inflammatory and corticosteroid medications are prescribed for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

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Rheumatoid arthritis Vs. Osteoarthritis

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