Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

arthritisRheumatoid Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis
Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are painful conditions affecting the joints of the human body. However, there are a number of differences between the two conditions. Having an idea about these differences will help you in understanding your condition as well as securing the right treatment.

The basic difference between the conditions arises due to their underlying cause. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease. This means that it takes place because of wear and tear of the cartilage between the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, takes place because of an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is a condition where the immune system attacks healthy tissues in the body itself.

Another difference in the two conditions relate to the age at which the symptoms start off. Rheumatoid arthritis can strike a person at any moment. It does not have a specifically vulnerable age. However, osteoarthritis predominantly affects the aged.

Osteoarthritis advances over a period of time. It gets worse over age and with repeated wearing of the joints. However, rheumatoid arthritis advances rapidly and can be a full fledged condition within weeks or months. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by pain and swelling in the joints. There is stiffness in the joints which increases with rest. The symptoms of osteoarthritis are different. Though there is joint ache and some tenderness in the affected joints as a whole, there is little or no swelling involved. An important distinction between the two conditions is that osteo arthritis is confined to the weight bearing joints only. Rheumatoid arthritis may spread to other organs over a period of time and cause complications.

The pattern of joints that are affected also vary between the two conditions. In rheumatoid arthritis, small joints and larger ones are affected on both sides of the body, usually in a symmetrical manner. This symmetry is absent in osteo arthritis. The symptoms usually begin on one side of the body and spread to the other areas. Moreover, the symptoms are usually limited to one set of joints only. A patient of rheumatoid arthritis often complains of a general feeling of illness, tiredness and lethargy. These symptoms are absent as far as osteo arthritis is concerned.

Finally, the stiffness in your joints may also indicate whether you have rheumatoid or osteo arthritis. Patients with osteo arthritis experience joint stiffness for less than an hour in the morning. However, patients with rheumatoid arthritis tend to suffer longer, usually more than 30 minutes at a time.


1. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs due to an autoimmune response of the body, while osteoarthritis is mainly a result of mechanical wear and tear of the cartilage in between the joints
2. Osteoarthritis affects older people, but rheumatoid arthritis can affect anyone.
3. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis worsen rapidly. However, osteoarthritis progresses at a relatively slower rate
4. There is symmetry in the pattern of progress of rheumatoid arthritis. It affects both sides of the body.
5. There is little or no redness and swelling in the joints of people with osteoarthritis.

Search DifferenceBetween.net :

Email This Post Email This Post : If you like this article or our site. Please spread the word. Share it with your friends/family.


  1. Rheumatoid arthritis can be a difficult thing to deal with if you’re not on good medications. Thank goodness for all of the many wonderful treatments currently available and all the new ones coming out all the time!


  1. Difference Between Orthodontics and Orthopedics | Difference Between | Orthodontics vs Orthopedics

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

Articles on DifferenceBetween.net are general information, and are not intended to substitute for professional advice. The information is "AS IS", "WITH ALL FAULTS". User assumes all risk of use, damage, or injury. You agree that we have no liability for any damages.

Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Finder