What is the Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

March 16th, 2020

The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) projects that by 2040, an estimated 78 million (26%) US adults aged 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. 

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is defined as painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis are the 2 most common forms of arthritis. Although the symptoms of these two types of arthritis may be similar, it is important to distinguish between them in order to receive proper medical treatment.

What is the Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The primary difference is that osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the smooth cartilage joint surface breaks down into fragments. Cartilage cushions the joint during impact so when the cartilage wears down, it may cause the bones to rub against each other. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is considered a degenerative joint disorder.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system malfunctions and attacks the joint causing fluid to build up in the joint. This attack causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness in several joints at one time. Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

If you believe you have Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid arthritis, physical therapy can help. Call Respire Physical Therapy at 703-671-1871 to schedule an appointment. Our expert doctor of physical therapy can help you improve your joint motion, correct mechanics, and strengthen the surrounding muscles to alleviate pain and restore function.

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