Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

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By Dr. Sandeep Benkal

Dr. Sandeep Benkal boasts a comprehensive fifteen-year background as an Ayurvedic doctor, with a particular specialization in skin conditions, arthritis, PCOS, and diabetes management.

BAMS, DND| 15+ Years of Experience

Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

The key differences between Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA):

Overview of the diseases:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, which means that the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake, which leads to inflammation or painful swelling in joints or the affected parts of the body.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone, typically due to wear and tear over time. It is the most common type of arthritis and is more common in older and obese people. Peoples with osteoarthritis usually have joint pain when they walk more, climb the stairs and sitting on floor.

Age Factor and Progression:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) commonly develops between the ages of 20 and 50, but can occur at any age. It tends to progress rapidly, and the symptoms become more pronounced over few weeks and months.
Osteoarthritis (OA) more often than not affects older adults, usually occurring after the age of 40. It develops gradually and progresses slowly over many years.

Symptoms to watch out for:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms include, joint pain, swelling, stiffness, fatigue, and systemic effects such as fever and weight loss. It typically affects multiple joints symmetrically, including small joints like those in the hands and feet.

Osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms include joint pain, crypts sound , tenderness, and reduced mobility. It primarily affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and spine.

What are the causes?

Researches and scientists are unable to pin down the exact cause. But it's believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors that trigger an autoimmune response, in the body.

The risk factors for Osteoarthritis (OA) include age, genetic predisposition, joint injury, obesity, and over exertion of joints. It's primarily a result of the gradual breakdown of joint cartilage.

Proper Diagnosis:

Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed based on a combination of symptoms, physical examination by a doctor and blood tests such as RA factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (ACCP) antibodies, and imaging studies like X-rays and MRI.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is diagnosed based on pronounced symptoms, physical examination, and laboratory examination such as Calcium, including BMD( Bone Mineral Density), X-rays that can reveal joint damage, such as narrowing of joint space and the presence of bone spurs.

Medical Intervention or Treatment:

The treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis is aimed at relieving symptoms, slowing down disease progression, and preserving joint function. This typically involves a combination of medications, physio-therapy, and lifestyle modifications.

Osteoarthritis treatment focuses on managing symptoms and improving joint function. This may include medications to reduce pain and inflammation, physio-therapy, weight management, assistive devices, and in severe cases, joint replacement surgery.

Ayurvedic Intervention:

Ayurvedic medication for both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis have proven to be more effective. The Ayurveda treatment mainly focuses on Detoxification procedures, Diet modification, Lifestyle changes, Yoga, Massage, Meditation and ancient herbal medicine to control, manage and give patients better quality of life. 

Beware of Complications:

Rheumatoid Arthritis can lead to joint deformity, disability, and systemic complications affecting other organs. However, early and aggressive treatment can help manage symptoms and slow down the disease progression, and improve the condition over a period of time.

Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition, and while it can cause significant pain and restrict the mobility of an individual. Proper treatment can help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.