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Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis: 7 Important Difference

Difference between Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis. So, in this article, we will be discussing the two major bone-related diseases. Most people think that osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the same, but there is a lot of difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

We will discuss all the aspects of both diseases to clarify that they are different diseases and the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are arthritis types. This is the only common thing between them.

Otherwise, both diseases are different from each other in symptoms, treatment, and precautions. According to wellness professionals, the main difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, whereas osteoarthritis is not an autoimmune disease.


Before discussing the difference, let’s discuss the disease and its symptoms. Osteoarthritis is shortly named OA.

Firstly, this disease is not an auto-immune disease. This disease is caused when the spongy tissue, known as the cartilage between your joints, breaks down. There are many risk factors, but this will mainly happen due to daily mechanical wear and tear.

47011108 joint pain rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
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After this patient will feel pain in the bones and other joints. These patients do not have any problems or pain in starting, and people ignore the first symptom, which is minor joint aches.

After several weeks the affected joints will feel intense pain in bones and large joints, and the health conditions worsen as time passes.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Now, we will discuss the second disease, Rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes this disease is also called RA. RA is an auto-immune disease. First, let’s talk about autoimmune diseases. What is Autoimmune disease? Autoimmune diseases are those in which our immune system attacks our own cells and damages the joints.

In this case, our immune system treats our joints as the enemy of our body and starts taking action against our own joints. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints and bones of the body. The affected joint will feel pain and morning stiffness. Sometimes the patient feels entire body pain.

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Multiple joints are affected by our body’s immune system, and the patients will feel chronic inflammation in joints. There are several risk factors, but the main factor is family history. Morning stiffness is the first sign that you can observe during this disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is further divided into Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis.

What is Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis?

It is also referred to as juvenile idiopathic arthritis by doctors; Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis causes severe pain in the joint, and it also causes joint inflammation. Sometimes stiffness for around six weeks, mostly in the child who is around 16 years old or younger than this. There is a lot of difference between osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but juvenile arthritis is a part of rheumatoid arthritis. 

Collectively, in the United Nations, around 50,000 children are affected by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The joint inflammation in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis also causes redness, warmth, soreness, and swelling in the area of joints. In this, any joint can be affected; there is no particular location for the joint pain; it can happen in any joint.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease or disorder. It means our immune system targets its own bones and recognizes them as foreign particles, and as a response, it starts destroying its own cells, especially the bone cells.

In normal conditions immune system is used to attack foreign particles; foreign particles are not part of our body and enter the body from outside; so, in normal conditions immune system starts its various reactions against foreign particles but in this case, auto-immune.

But in auto-immune disorder, our immune system starts destroying the cells of its own; it’s the same as if a person in the team started destroying or killing their own teammates. This happens due to many reasons.

As each and every cell of the immune system goes through several training activities, which tell the cell which cell is it’s own and which is the foreign cell, there are several checkpoints also.

Who assesses these cells, whether they get the thing right or wrong? But in some cases, several cells get the wrong information but somehow escape from the checkpoints. These cells are responsible for auto-immunity.

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Types of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is further divided into several types; these types have their own area of effects and have some common differences.

1. Pauciarticular

This word can be separated as PAW-SEE-ARE-TICK-YOU-LAR. In simple language, it contains or affects mostly four to eight joints. This is the most common type of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in children. This type of arthritis generally affects the knees and large joints. In some cases, the children having this abnormal protein level are also found in the blood test.

2. Polyarticular

In about around 30% of all cases of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, this type of arthritis is found. In this, almost five joints are involved. The small joints, hand and feet joints, and sometimes large joints can be involved. This type of arthritis sometimes has no symptoms in the individual.

3. Systemic

In this type of arthritis, along with joint inflammation and swelling, the systemic form of arthritis is seen in the patients. Light pink rashes can classify this type of arthritis, affecting the internal organs, including the heart, spleen, and liver.

Key Difference Between Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis

There is various difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. They have different symptoms, risk factors, treatments, affected joints, characteristics, and many more differences. Let’s talk about all these key differences in detail.

1. RA and OA Symptoms

There is a huge difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis concerning the symptoms. The main difference in symptoms is morning stiffness which occurs only in rheumatoid arthritis. This symptom is absent in Osteoarthritis.

The other difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis lies in joint pain. In rheumatoid arthritis, pain occurs in small joints, generally in the hands and feet but in the case of osteoarthritis, the pain occurs in the joints, which are weight-bearing and mostly used in all activities like hands, spine, and legs.

Some other symptoms which are different in RA than OA include

  1. Low Fever

  2. Rheumatoid nodules, known as lumps, will grow under the skin.

  3. Fatigue

  4. Low appetite and weight loss

Whereas these symptoms are not observed in the case of OA. The symptoms which are seen in the case of OA can be

  1. Swollen joints

  2. Joints break, and the sound of cracking and grinding when the joints are moved

  3. Joint pain and stiffness

  4. Joint is not able to work as earlier.

These all are the differences in the symptoms of both diseases. Apart from this, these diseases have some similar symptoms.

  1. Pain in joints

  2. The range of motion is limited.

    32175156 inflamed hand wrist muscles and bones white background scaled
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2. RA and OA Risk Factors

The second difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is their risk factors. RA and OA are forms of arthritis which is why they share some common risk factors. First, we will discuss the common risk factors, and then we will discuss the difference between RA and OA risk factors.

The first common risk factor is family history. If someone in your family has rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, you are also more likely to develop the disease. The second common risk factor is excess body weight. If you have a healthy weight, you are less likely to develop any disease, but if the body’s weight is excess, then you will develop this disease.

The risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis are also known as rheumatoid factors, and they are not clear yet, but some of the factors include

  1. Women will develop this disease if they smoke.

  2. Some chemicals also cause this disease. Those chemicals are silica and asbestos. So people or individuals who use these chemicals regularly will develop this disease after a few months.

The risk factors for osteoarthritis 

  1. Accidents or injuries at joints

  2. Overuse of joints

  3. Not giving proper rest to joints

  4. Deformed joints like legs having different lengths or knocked knees.

  5. Older age

3. Affected Joint in OA and RA

We know that OA and RA are forms of arthritis, but there is a difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis concerning the joints affected by them. Let’s discuss this point in detail.

In other words, Rheumatoid arthritis is also a symmetrical disease which in simple words means at the same time; you will feel pain on both sides simultaneously in the body. In contrast, on the other hand, osteoarthritis is very less symmetrical. RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) mostly impacts the small joints. RA causes joint pain in the knees, shoulders, ankles, and fingers.

OA involves causing joint pain in the areas of the spine, neck, big toes, and knees. RA also causes stiffness and swelling in the affected joints, which is not seen in the case of OA.

32212610 human leg osteoarthritis inflammation of bone joints 1
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4. Treatment of RA and OA

There is a lot of difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in treatment methods. Both these diseases are not completely cured, but doctors aim for pain relief.

In the case of RA, doctors try to slow this process of attack on the body. So that the person will feel less pain and inflammation; in this disease immune system is suppressed so that it will not take any action against the body cells. But due to this, any virus or bacteria can easily attack the patient’s body. Johns Hopkins arthritis centre is the best place to treat RA.

In the case of OA, the person has joint damage, and cartilage is torn. So there is no way to reverse that joint damage. However, the doctor will give them medication to reduce pain. So they get mostly painkillers and vitamin and calcium tablets to help the joints work better.

5. Drugs For OA and RA

As the difference lies in the treatment, there must be a difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis concerning the drugs given to the patients. So here is the list of drugs that are prescribed in both cases.

Drugs for RA patients:

  1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are given to patients to reduce inflammation.

  2. Antirheumatoid drugs or disease-modifying drugs are given to patients so that the course of the disease is slowed down.

  3. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs which help the immune system to regulate better and decrease inflammation.

  4. Acetaminophen is a pain killer which helps in pain relief.

Drugs for OA patients:

  1. Gels, creams, and oils are given to patients to rub on the joints to reduce the pain.

  2. Pain-relieving tablets or drugs like acetaminophen are prescribed to patients to reduce pain.

  3. Injections are given to the patients on the joints.

  4. Anti-depressant drugs are also prescribed in extreme conditions to reduce chronic pain.

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6. Weight Loss Matters in RA and OA

The only difference between osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a difference in weight loss. If a person’s health is good, he has a healthy weight. But if a person is suffering from any of these diseases, it becomes more important for them to focus on their health and weight.

In the case of RA, the doctors suggest a balanced diet and some gentle exercise that will not stress joints. These exercises help enhance muscle strength and reduce stiffness. The person has to maintain a healthy body weight.

In the case of OA, the doctors suggest losing weight because heavy weight can put extra stress on the knees, hips, and spine. Food that contains a lot of carbs and fats is avoided because this type of food increases weight.

7. Precautions In Case of RA and OA

There are a lot of differences between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and out of them, one is a difference in their precautions.

In the case of RA, the doctors ask to take some precautions

  1. Always do moderate exercises so the joints and muscles of the body will work well.

  2. Always have an anti-inflammatory diet like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, salmon, olive oil, and omega-rich food.

  3. Sometimes extra stress will also lead to RA symptoms so learn how you have to manage your stress.

  4. Go for routine checkups.

In the case of OA, the doctors ask to take these precautions:

  1. Always maintain a healthy body weight so the joints will not feel extra stress and will not be damaged.

  2. Control the blood sugar level of your body because a high level of blood sugar will lead to OA symptoms.

  3. Try to prevent injuries to the joints and prevent joint breaks.

  4. Do not ignore the little pain in your joints; contact the doctor if you feel little pain in joints or cartilage.

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Recent Research on Rheumatoid Arthritis

As we have discussed earlier rheumatoid arthritis is not treated completely. Recently, many researchers have been going on to find out some treatments for rheumatoid arthritis pain. Many research institutes like Harvard Health Publishing are researching in this field.

According to new research in 2019, Fenebrutinib is the new medication that can treat rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical trials are going on for fenebrutinib but it is not used as a treatment option. Along with this, there is another research in which fenebrutinib is given with DMARDs like methotrexate to provide a synergistic effect. But this is also going through clinical trials.

The new medication which got approval from the FDA for the treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis is Janus Kinase inhibitor (JAK). The different brands are approved to prepare this drug and sell it in the market. Those brands are Olumiant, Rinvoq, and Xeljanz.

Recent Research on Osteoarthritis

As we all know, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are common forms of arthritis. But the treatment is different, and so is the research. A person who puts much stress on joints will gradually develop this disease.

If we talk about recent research, a scientist named Prof. Francesco Dell’Accio, and Dr. Sue Eldridge have discovered Agrin, a molecule that will play a significant role in treating osteoarthritis.

Agrin is a molecule responsible for the well-functioning of joints, bones, and cartilage. So if there is any impairment in joints and cartilage, this molecule will repair it and help the joints and cartilage work better.

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Key Takeaways

There is a lot of difference between Osteo And Rheumatoid Arthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks its own cells and joints. In contrast, in osteoarthritis, the joint damage is due to excess weight bearing and sometimes joint damage due to an accident. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two very common types of diseases that are related to bones and joints. 

RA causes joint stiffness, whereas OA does not cause such joint stiffness. Body weight loss is another symptom of RA, whereas OA does not have this symptom. RA’s medical history the family matters a lot because it is the main cause of this disease.

By some peer-reviewed studies and physical examination, one can not differentiate whether this disease is osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Still, they all know there is a difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

There are proper check-ups for the detection of both diseases and different treatment and disease control options for these diseases.


1. Can a Person Have Both Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Ans. Yes, it is possible that a person is suffering from both diseases. If a person is suffering from RA at a very young age, then at old age, it is possible that he has some wear and tear on cartilage which will lead to OA. OA is also developed due to some accidents or injuries during sports.

2. Which Disease is More Painful OA Or RA?

Ans. The pain varies in both diseases according to the intensity of the disease. In the case of OA, if the cartilage is less torn, the pain will be mild, but if the cartilage is fully torn, then the pain will be severe. In case of joint damage, the pain is severe.

If we talk about RA, then if it is juvenile, it causes less pain, and the pain will reduce after age 21. But if it is not juvenile, the pain will be severe, especially during the winter and morning.

There are treatments and medications which will give pain relief.

3. How is C Reactive Protein (CRP) Related To RA And OA?

Ans. In both diseases, the level of CRP increases because it causes systemic inflammation or joint inflammation in the body, due to which our body will release CRP in our blood. When we go to the doctor to diagnose the disease, he will check the CRP level.

If the CRP level is elevated, the person suffers from RA or OA. In short, CRP is a marker of systemic disease used to diagnose RA. There are treatments and medications available to reduce inflammation and fight inflammation.

4. Can Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis be Treated by Surgery?

Ans. In normal or mild conditions, surgery is not conducted. In the case of both diseases, if the patient suffers from severe joint pain that can not be reduced by medication, then only the doctor suggests surgery.

The surgery is a secure process in which total joint replacement takes place. The joint replacement surgery is done robotically. It takes just a few minutes time for the replacement of joints. In this surgery, the damaged joints are removed, and in place of those joints, artificial joints are incorporated.

As you all know, every surgery hurts the body and health. So it is the last way to treat the disease and only in extremely painful conditions.


  • himanirawat816

    I am a biotechnologist working on different parameters of diseases and disorders. I am keenly interested in writing about illness and condition niches. I dabble at researching the disease, disorders, microbes and lifestyle-related content. Through my writing, I help people understand more about diseases and the process taking place inside them in detail.

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