There are various forms of arthritis, each with its own symptoms. The most common of these are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Knowing the difference between the types of arthritis contributes to better management of symptoms. This understanding can lead to improved quality of life and a more proactive approach to joint health.

For detailed information on comparing rheumatoid arthritis with osteoarthritis, continue reading below.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

RA is an autoimmune disease. This means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, primarily the synovium- the lining of the membranes that surround the joints. This chronic inflammation leads to joint damage, pain, and swelling.

Unlike osteoarthritis, which happens in certain joints due to mechanical wear and tear, RA can affect several joints at the same time.

Key Characteristics of RA

RA often affects joints on both sides of the body concurrently. For instance, if the right wrist is affected, the left wrist is also likely to be affected. Beyond joint symptoms, RA can impact other organs and systems in the body.

Fatigue, fever, and weight loss are common systemic manifestations. People with RA frequently experience prolonged morning stiffness, lasting for hours. This stiffness can also occur after periods of inactivity throughout the day.

Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed through a combination of:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Imaging studies

RA is often managed with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and anti-inflammatory medications. This is used to control the immune response. Physical therapy and lifestyle modifications are essential components.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

OA is primarily a result of mechanical wear and tear on the joints over time. This degenerative joint disease often occurs in weight-bearing joints. This includes the spine, hips, and knees, as well as the hands.

Unlike RA, OA typically affects one side of the body and is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage. This is the cushioning tissue between bones.

This shouldn’t be confused with issues like carpal tunnel. Unlike arthritis, which affects joints, carpal tunnel is a nerve disorder.

Key Characteristics of OA

OA commonly affects specific joints, especially those subject to repetitive stress or overuse. For example, the knees of individuals with a history of frequent kneeling or heavy lifting may be more prone to OA.

Unlike the inflammatory nature of RA, OA usually has a slow onset, with symptoms worsening over time. Joint pain and stiffness are often more pronounced after periods of activity.

Osteoarthritis is typically diagnosed based on:

  • Symptoms
  • Medical history,
  • Imaging, such as X-rays

OA treatment focuses on:

Comparing Rheumatoid Arthritis With Osteoarthritis

Navigating osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) requires comprehensive care and expertise. If you think you might have arthritis or are having joint issues, it’s crucial to talk to a healthcare professional as a medical professional can accurately diagnose and compare rheumatoid arthritis with osteoarthritis.

Idaho Shoulder 2 Hand offers advanced treatments for people with conditions like OA or RA. Book a consultation today at our Boise practice. We are happy to consider patients of all ages.