Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis – Difference and Comparison

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) was first introduced and designated by Sir Archibald Edward Garrod in the mid-1850s. Osteoarthritis (spondyloarthritis), also known as wear and tear disease, is one in which joints degenerate. This disease targets the joints in the body areas such as the hips, hands, and knees. During this, the cartilage (the connective tissue protecting the joints and bones) begins to break down, and the bones under it get affected.

Women are more prone to develop osteoarthritis, but it is also common in men after age 50. Repetitive use of specific joints and knee bending are leading causes of this disease. Obesity causes extra stress on the joints, which causes damage, but it can also be caused due to the person’s genetics. Pain and cracking sounds produced with the movements of the affected joints are evident symptoms of osteoarthritis.

The most effective measures to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis include regular exercise to strengthen muscles around joints and to lose weight if the person is obese. Walking, bicycling, being active, and eating a healthy and nutritional diet is consistently effective in treating this disease. In severe cases, procedures like Physical therapy, Occupational therapy, and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) are done.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?                                                                             

Rheumatoid Arthritis damages the outer lining of the joint and causes inflammation, leading to tissue damage in the joints. It is common in the hands, wrists, and knee joints. Dr. Augustin Jacob Landre-Beauvais gave the first description of Rheumatoid Arthritis in 1800. In severe inflammation and damage, it causes chronic pain, lack of balance, and deformity.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition without knowing why it is triggered. Being an autoimmune condition means the person’s immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissues. Other factors contributing to the cause of this disease are smoking, being overweight, and low alcohol drinking. Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis involves medications that reduce inflammation and slow joint damage, as well as lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Although Rheumatoid Arthritis cannot be permanently treated, there are still medicines and precautions that help reduce acute joint pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, steroids, and therapy are some ways to reduce the joint pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Tendon repair, joint fusion, and total joint replacement are done through surgery as a last resort to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

  1. Osteoarthritis was designated by Sir Archibald Edward Garrod, whereas Dr. Augustin Jacob coined Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  2. Osteoarthritis damages the cartilage around bones, whereas Rheumatoid damages the outer lining of the joint.
  3. Osteoarthritis is caused by external factors, whereas the person’s immune system causes Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  4. Osteoarthritis happens as a person gets old, whereas Rheumatoid arthritis begins in middle age usually.
  5. Osteoarthritis causes painful and swollen joints, whereas joint aches with no swelling are symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Comparison Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Parameters of ComparisonOsteoarthritisRheumatoid Arthritis
Named BySir Archibald Edward Garrod Dr. Augustin Jacob
DescriptionDamage of Cartilage Around BonesDamage of the Outer Lining Around Bones
OnsetCommon in Women in 50sMiddle-aged People
CausesObesity& Stress on JointsImmune Deficiency and Obesity
SymptomsPain with Swollen JointsPain with No Swelling


  1. https://www.geriatric.theclinics.com/article/S0749-0690(10)00026-1/abstract
  2. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1004965