Osteoarthritis Vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis


Despite the fact that osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are types of arthritis which causes joint pain, two diseases have different diagnosis. Fascinatingly though both are chronic and non-curable disease, they have completely separate conditions with different causes, symptoms and diagnosis.


The primary difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis is the nature of the disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that produces inflammatory joint symptoms throughout the body. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that is the result of increased wear and tear on joints. Osteoarthritis may produce inflammatory symptoms as well but primarily destroys joint cartilage over the time period.

Rheumatoid arthritis can develop in patients anytime between the age of 30 and 60 years of age while osteoarthritis generally develops later in life.


Osteoarthritis is caused by constant wear and tear on specific joints in patient’s body. It’s a chronic disease which usually gets worst with the age. Certain kind of jobs and sports can also lead to development of this disease. The activity places additional pressure on joints which as result wear down the cartilage. Even old injury which is not healed properly can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis. It is also possible that a person has inherited cartilage deterioration.

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known. What doctors know is that rheumatoid arthritis is triggered by autoimmune disorders where harmful antibodies are produced which are responsible for attacking the health joint tissue in patients. However what cause autoimmune disorder to develop in certain patients is not known. The primary factor which causes rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be genetic, environmental, and hormonal. Also  lifestyle like smoking and obesity.


Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Joint pain, stiffness, swelling affecting multiple joints
  • Symmetrical symptoms affecting both side of the body
  • Morning stiffness lasting longer than 30 minutes
  • Additional symptoms like fatigue, fever and malaise


  • Joint pain and stiffness usually affecting hands, fingers and knees
  • Joints on one side affects worse than on the other side
  • Morning stiffness lasting for fewer than 30 minutes
  • Possible spine and hip pain


Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed by performing a physical examination of symptoms as well as knowing about the medical history of the patients. Orthopedics Surgeon also perform blood test to look for the presence of antibodies that triggers rheumatoid arthritis. Imaging can be done to diagnose joint damage and inflammation.

Osteoarthritis is diagnosed with imaging test. X-rays and MRIs show the damage and deterioration of joints. Also by specific blood test it can be diagnosed.

Dr Dhananjay Gupta

Dr Dhananjay Gupta
Director and Senior Consultant,
Orthopaedics and Joint Reconstruction and Replacement Surgeon
Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj, Delhi.

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