How Can I Tell the Difference Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis?

Posted on 08/08/2016

Rheaumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Osteoarthritis (OA)

  • Autoimmune disease
  • One tenth as common as osteoarthritis
  • Can develop at any age
  • Symptoms could include: morning stiffness, joint swelling, joint pain
  • The immune system attacks the synovium around the joints.
  • As a result, fluid builds up in the joints which leads to pain and swelling.
  • Can affect almost any joint in the body
  • Symptoms tend to be worse in the morning


  • Degenerative disease
  • More common in people who suffer from diabetes, being overweight, or gout
  • Symptoms localize around the joint where cartilage is damaged
  • This type of arthritis is the result of cartilage breakdown, thus exposing nerves that cause you pain
  • Some joints are more commonly involved than others, and one side can be more severe than the other
  • Can develop bone spurs
  • Most common form of arthritis
  • Symptoms tend to be worse after using the joint


Knowing the difference between these two can help when choosing a physician to visit, plus helps you more accurately describe the type of pain you are having. Most people experience stiffness all over their body when they have RA, which is very distinguishable between pain in a specific area (OA). Rheumatoid Arthritis affects approximately 1.5 million people in the United States, and 75% of that group is women. Typically, RA is treated with medications which suppress the immune system, since it is an autoimmune disease.  OA is treated with physical therapy to restore function to the specific area and medications or joint injections to reduce pain. 

We encourage you to monitor your symptoms closely and exercise regularly, as this will help increase blood flow and flexibility in your joints. Eating right and exercising benefits your body by keeping it healthy, strong, and reduces your arthritic pain. 

Click On The Photo To Find Some Exercise Idea's


If joint pain is hindering you from completing the activities that you love, don't wait to find a solution. Give us a call or get a referral from your primary care physician to treat your arthritis symptoms today!