Posted by on February 21, 2019

As the aging process takes the driving seat, the body starts to show symptoms of various chronic diseases, if proper healthcare measures aren’t brought in practice. Though preventive healthcare measures are the answer to either delaying the aging process or keeping them at bay, the sedentary lifestyle we all inhabit doesn’t allow us to do so. The very first thing that is attacked are the joints, and pain that follows is after.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, on the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is considered as the most incapacitating or disabling type of arthritis, and it is the third most common type of arthritis found in people. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis both are autoimmune disease and have a lot of similarities, but there are a lot of differences in them as well. The causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of both types of arthritis are very different.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease or wear-and-tear arthritis, is primarily a joint disease. The starting point of osteoarthritis is the breakdown of joint cartilage. Cartilage works as a cushion between the bones that form a joint. The loss of cartilage between the bones can make a bone rub on another bone, and this process can cause extreme pain to a person. Osteoarthritis usually begins with pain in a single joint.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis found in people over the age of 65 years old. Recent research shows that 70% of people above the age of 65 suffer from osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is chronic autoimmune arthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system of a person starts attacking the body which creates inflammation in joints, skin, eyes, lungs, nervous system, and heart. Rheumatoid arthritis is primarily joint inflammation arthritis but it can affect some organs as well. Rheumatoid arthritis affects multiple joints at a time as it a symmetrical type of disease, which means that if a joint on one side of the body is inflamed, then the joint on the other side gets inflamed as well. Approximately 2% of the world’s population is affected by rheumatoid arthritis, and it is the most common type of arthritis found in people from the age group of 30 to 60 years old. Also, 75% of rheumatoid patients are women.

Here are some of the significant differences between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis-

  • Causes: Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that affects the cartilage between two bones. Some researches show that one of the reasons behind this could be wear-and-tear of the cartilage or the effects of aging. In osteoarthritis, the water content of cartilage initially increases, and the protein composition of cartilage steadily degenerates which leads to extreme pain in the joint. Furthermore, some of the other causes of osteoarthritis could be joint injury, repetitive use or the stress of joints, being overweight, and family history/genetics.

With regard to rheumatoid arthritis, researchers have not been able to find the exact cause. Some researches show that family history and environmental changes can be the reason behind rheumatoid arthritis. Habits such as smoking tobacco could also trigger the disease.

  • Symptoms: Osteoarthritis primarily affects a single joint of the patient. A person is more likely to feel pain in the affected joint after repetitive use or activity. Some of the common symptoms are swelling, warming, and stiffening of the affected joint, especially in the morning(half hour) or later in the day. Osteoarthritis can also cause bone spurs, bony enlargements, and limited range of motion.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, affects both joints and organs. Some of the common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are redness, pain, stiffening, and swelling in both sides of the joint(both knees, not just one). A person is most likely to experience loss of appetite and fatigue at the beginning of rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation in skin, eyes, lungs, and heart as well.

Thus, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are very different in terms of their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. It is extremely necessary to diagnose a person with the correct type of arthritis so that the person can get the correct treatment as well.


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