Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis Compared
What is the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis? What symptoms
do they have in common and what symptoms are different? What is the cause of osteoarthritis
versus rheumatoid arthritis?
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are arthritis which means "swelling
of the joints." However, the cause and type of swelling is very different between
these two forms.
Osteoarthritis is commonly referred to as a wear-and-tear condition or degenerative
joint disease. It develops over time and is generally thought to be age related
though some think there is also a genetic factor to the development of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the inflammation and degeneration of the cartilage covering the
bone at the joints. Over time as the cartilage degenerates it leaves the two bones
of the joint rubbing against each other which causes pain and swelling and may eventually
cause the bone to lose its normal shape.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune disease where the body attacks the synovium. The
synovium lines the joint space and controls the joint environment. The synovium
becomes inflamed causing redness, swelling, and pain of the infected joint. If a
joint is stressed or overused while the synovium is inflamed the joint may be damaged.
Rheumatoid arthritis typically develops at much younger ages than osteoarthritis
and there is a form called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which develops in children.
Osteoarthritis affects only joints whereas rheumatoid arthritis affects other organs
of the body as well.
Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the large joints and joints with the most use
or strain. It is more commonly found in joints of over-weight people probably due
to the excess stress on the joints (such as knees or hips) due to the extra weight.
It may affect only one joint or several joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis may affect any of the joints but may be more common in the
smaller joints of the hands, wrists, ankles, and elbows. It presents itself symmetrically.
That is, one of the diagnosing factors of rheumatoid arthritis is that usually if
a finger joint is affected on the left hand then a finger joint will also be affected
on the right hand. It affects joints symmetrically across the body.
The commonality of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is that both affect the
joints and cause joint pain and even damage. The similarities stop there as they
each have different causes and outcomes as well as different treatments.