What Is The Difference Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Although everyone suffers from joint pain, arthritis can be debilitating. There are many forms of arthritis, but the two most common forms are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. Not only are these two types of arthritis similar in symptoms, but it is essential to distinguish between both to have a proper treatment plan and to manage them accordingly for a better life. 

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Due to the wear and tear of the cartilage in the joints, Osteoarthritis can occur and is most common. This type of arthritis can cause stiffness in the joints and hinder the range of motion and movement in the long term. The most commonly affected areas where Osteoarthritis is prominent are the hands, hips and knees. However, Osteoarthritis doesn’t have a limit to where it arises in the body and can occur in the spine, neck and other central areas. 

Because Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition, it can typically worsen over time, hence, being more prominent in older adults, individuals who are overweight or anyone with a history of joint pain. 

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is more commonly known as RA. It is a chronic autoimmune disorder that can cause inflammation in the joints and tissue areas. This inflammation can lead to damage not limited to the cartilage, bone and ligaments. However, it can also severely affect the lungs, heart, blood and vessels. 

Even though the symptoms of arthritis can be similar, they are very different once you know which type of arthritis pain you are suffering from. RA symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling and, most possibly, fatigue. Rheumatoid arthritis pain is most commonly present in women between the ages of 40 to 60. 

Which Is Worse, Osteoarthritis Or Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Both types of arthritis can be or get worse over time, and both types can be hard to deal with – especially if left untreated. However, any form of arthritis differs from person to person and can cause significant pain and disability, severely impacting a person’s quality of life. 

Due to Osteoarthritis being a degenerative condition that gradually develops over time and can cause pain and stiffness in the affected areas, this can lead to mobility problems in the future and become more severe as a person’s age progresses. 

However, Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder leading to inflammation in the joints and all surrounding areas, Hindering movement and affecting not only the cartilage but also other significant organs such as the lungs, heart and blood. RA symptoms can become more severe and crippling to those who suffer from Osteoarthritis. Hence, it hurts the overall health and longevity of life.

The Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Due to the severity of RA, the diagnosis is based on a combination of clinical signs and symptoms, including laboratory tests and studies.

The doctor will examine the joints in which Rheumatoid arthritis could be present and look out for the prominent signs of inflammation, including but not limited to redness, warmth and swelling. Stiffness and joint deformity can also be more prominent signs of RA. 

Blood tests are also a form of examination to help confirm the presence of Rheumatoid arthritis and rule out other forms of arthritis that can mimic the signs of RA. Several commonly used blood tests for examinations, including ultrasounds, X-rays and MRIs if need be. 

The Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis 

Diagnosing Osteoarthritis is typically done by a doctor based on patient history, tests and imaging studies. During the physical examination of the affected joints, the doctors will look out for stiffness, joint pain, creaking sounds and limited movement. However, family history is also taken into consideration.

It is also important to note that Osteoarthritis (OA) can be mistaken for Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Because both arthritis signs and symptoms overlap. To manage and make sure that the diagnosis is accurate, a combination of clinical examination and imaging, studies and patient history is taken into account and done for a thorough prognosis. 

What is the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?

How To Manage Both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Managing both forms of arthritis is always a challenge due to the condition, severity and how chronic the condition may be. However, with proper treatment, care and management, reducing the symptoms and flare-ups can be handled, which will help with function, maintaining a well-balanced life and improving range of motion and life expectancy.

Several forms of medication are available: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that can help reduce pain and inflammation and help with range of motion. Also, physical therapy is the number one form in helping with flexibility, movement and increasing blood flow. Physical therapy is also often recommended and needed to help with stiffness and increase mobility. 

Most of the time, weight increase can lead to joint and muscular pain. To manage arthritis, you need to work with a healthcare provider and have proper nutrition and weight management. Every person’s arthritis is different, so ensure each plan is followed per individual needs and guidelines. A specialized plan will help to meet needs and goals and have long-lasting results, and treatment is done with the utmost certainty of the patient. 

Final Words about RA and OA Arthritis 

In conclusion, Rheumatoid (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA) are both severe and chronic forms of arthritis. Both affect the relative joints and areas and can mimic and overlap in signs and symptoms, leading to misdiagnosis. This is why it is necessary to see a healthcare provider to clarify which type of arthritis is present and properly manage it according to the specified treatment. Risk factors for OA include age, obesity and joint injury. However, risk factors for RA can be due to smoking and family history; physical therapy, medication and a well-managed and healthy lifestyle can lead to arthritis becoming more manageable over time and help decrease any associated symptoms.

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