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What's the difference between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis?

What’s the difference between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis?

One of the most common questions I get asked is ‘what is the difference between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis’?

Many people say there is a history of rheumatoid in the family, meaning that there is osteoarthritis in the family.

There is a big difference between the two and knowing the difference is important because it means different things when it comes to treatment and outcomes.

Osteoarthritis is more generally considered to be a ‘wear and tear’ arthritis. One where primarily the bones at the joints overgrow.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an arthritis that begins in the immune system, where there is inflammation and swelling of the lining of the joints, that then leads later on to joint destruction.

In Osteoarthritis, the joints are swollen, but it is usually bony and hard swelling.

In Rheumatoid Arthritis, the joints are swollen, but they are soft and often boggy swollen. This is due to fluid in the joints.

There is no cure for osteoarthritis, and once it is started there is no medication that can prevent its progression.

There is no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis, but, there are great treatments for it that can improve outcomes and slow its progression.

In the past, Rheumatoid Arthritis used to be a disease that crippled people because of progressive joint damage. In the modern age we have excellent pharmaceutical treatments that effectively control symptoms for many people, giving them a far better outcome.

If you have arthritis, or think you might have arthritis, its important to see your Rheumatologist to know which type of arthritis you have as treatment may make a big difference to you now, and in the future.