The Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are more than 100 varieties of arthritis. The term arthritis literally means “inflammation (swelling) of a joint.”
Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are two of the most common types of arthritis, with OA being more common than RA. Both OA and RA are characterized by inflammation in the joints, with RA having more intense levels of inflammation.
OA and RA Facts
OA affects more than 30 million individuals in the United States alone and is the most common joint disease worldwide. On the basis of X-rays, there are estimates that 80 to 90 percent of adults over the age of 65 have some degree of OA. As a result, it is the leading cause of chronic disability in older adults, costing greater than $185 billion annually.
In contrast, RA affects just over 1.3 million Americans and approximately one percent of the world’s population. RA is much more common in women. In fact, they are up to three times more likely to develop RA than men. In women, it generally starts between the ages of 30 and 60. RA is also a significant cause of disability. Plus, 60 percent of people with inadequately treated RA are unable to work 10 years after the start of symptoms.
Characteristics of OA and RA
|Cause||Degenerative (i.e., “wear and tear” causing breakdown of cartilage cushion in joint)||Autoimmune (i.e., your body attacks itself; in this case, your own joints)|
Pattern of involvement
|Painful, swollen, and stiff joints with Heberden’s nodes and Bouchard’s nodes|
Asymmetrical (i.e., on only one side of the body)
Usually lasts less than one hour
|Painful, swollen, and stiff joints with rheumatoid nodules
Symmetrical (i.e., on both sides of the body)
Usually lasts longer than one hour
|Not typically associated with the disease||Very commonly associated with the disease and can affect organs such as the heart, lungs, eyes, and kidneys as well as have fevers, fatigue, and weight loss|