We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

By Alex Terris
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are both conditions affecting the joints, but have different underlying causes. Osteoarthritis is usually a sign of degeneration of cartilage, often as a consequence of age or overuse, whereas rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition which results in the body attacking its own joints. The symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are similar, although rheumatoid arthritis can affect the whole body, rather than just individual joints. Treatments for the two conditions are often different, although pain relief is important for both.

Osteoarthritis is more common than the rheumatoid variant and is usually caused by wear and tear. It is often seen in older people, although it can affect a person of any age; it affects joints such as the knee, hip, or fingers. Pain from osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage of a joint has worn down to such an extent that two bones begin to rub together. In most cases, osteoarthritis will start in a single joint.

Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and can affect many joints at the same time. When this condition occurs, the lining of joints in the body becomes inflamed, resulting in pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition, and generally considered to be more painful and debilitating than osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can both have a big impact on a person’s life, however, especially if he or she is active.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are caused by different underlying problems. Rheumatoid arthritis is a result of chronic inflammation, which occurs when the body begins to attack its own joints. Osteoarthritis, in contrast, is sometimes referred to as a natural part of aging. It can also be caused by repetitive damage to the joint, which is sometimes the result of high impact activities such as running or basketball.

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have similar symptoms. Pain is the most common sign, particularly in the morning. Rheumatoid arthritis may also cause a decrease in a joint’s range of motion. Other symptoms of both conditions include warmth, redness, and swelling around the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis can, in some cases, also affect organs.

The treatments for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis differ, although painkilling medication is often used for both. Osteoarthritis is usually treated with a mixture of medication and physical therapy to increase the strength of the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is nearly always treated with medication including drugs to slow the progression of the disease. Surgery can sometimes be required for both conditions.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.