Rheumatoid arthritis vs. osteoarthritis.

RA or OA? Though they have similar names and some symptoms in common, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis have very different causes, paths of progression, and treatments. That’s why it’s so important to see a rheumatologist for an accurate diagnosis. The following chart outlines the basic differences between these two diseases.

Type of Disease
Autoimmune disease
Joint pain, swelling, and stiffness; decreased range of motion; fever, fatigue, and loss of energy can also occur
Location of
Often causes swelling in pairs of joints—especially smaller ones (both hands, both ankles, etc.)
Time of Day
Generally worse in the morning or after long rest and lack of activity
Age of Onset
Usually occurs between 30 and 50 years of age, though can occur at any age
Approximately 1.3 million people have RA in the US
Known as the “wear and tear” type of arthritis and is associated with factors such as aging, injury, or obesity
Joint stiffness, pain, and decreased range of motion
Usually affects weight-bearing joints (i.e. back, hip, knee) as well as the neck, small finger joints and big toe
Tends to get worse with activity throughout the day
Most commonly affects middle- aged and older people
An estimated 21 million people have osteoarthritis in the US
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