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Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis: Know the Difference

Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis: Know the Difference

Apr. 5th, 2024

Did you know that 21.2% of adults, or 53.2 million people, have arthritis? Arthritis affects many Americans, impacting their ability to move and perform daily functions. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are two of the most common types of arthritis.

If you believe that you may have arthritis, it’s important to get diagnosed with the correct kind in order to receive the proper treatment. Here are the differences between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in your bones wears away. It typically begins in one place.

Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the joints. It usually attacks multiple areas of the body at once.


Osteoarthritis occurs when your joints break down over time. The most common joints osteoarthritis occurs in are in the hands, knees, hips, neck, and lower back.

Typically, people with osteoarthritis are older, in their 40s and 50s. This condition predominantly affects women.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Some symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain around the joints
  • Stiffness of joints
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Changes to joint shape
  • Tenderness
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Bone spurs

Osteoarthritis can affect people differently. Some people may find it difficult to perform day-to-day tasks, while others will hardly notice a change in their physical capabilities.

Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis

There are several risk factors that are common among those who develop osteoarthritis in their joints. Some of the risk factors include:

  • Older age
  • Female gender
  • Obesity
  • Stress on the joints
  • Genetics
  • Bone deformities

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when your immune system attacks healthy cells in the body, which causes them to break down and cause arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many areas of the body at once, including the hands, wrists, and knees. It is also common to attack the joint lining directly, which causes inflammation. On occasion, rheumatoid arthritis can affect the lungs, heart, and eyes.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

And in 40% of people with rheumatoid arthritis, they will have affects in the:

  • Heart
  • Skin
  • Lungs
  • Eyes
  • Kidneys
  • Nerve tissue
  • Bone marrow
  • Salivatory glands
  • Blood vessels

Typically, rheumatoid arthritis will affect some of the smaller joints and then spread to other parts of the body. There are also periods where it will be active in flares and then times when it will not affect your mobility at all.

Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are several risk factors for those who develop rheumatoid arthritis. They are:

  • Older age
  • Female gender
  • Genetics
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lung diseases
  • Periodontitis

When to See a Doctor

If you’ve noticed a change in your body’s joint movement recently, it may be best to consult with a medical professional. Your doctor can tell you what type of arthritis you have, as well as provide you with some treatment options to help lessen the pain.

Some reasons to see a doctor immediately include:

  • Joints look out of shape
  • Severe joint pain
  • Sudden swelling in the joints
  • Inability to use a joint

About Saber Healthcare Group

Saber Healthcare is an organization that provides services to more than 130 buildings across the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, and Delaware. To learn more about our company and services, click here.

Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.