RA VS. OA
How do rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis differ?
Although they have similar names and some common symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) have very different causes, paths of progression and treatments. That’s why it’s so important to see a rheumatologist for an accurate diagnosis. Below are the basic differences between RA and OA.
Type of Disease
RA: Autoimmune disease
OA: Known as the “wear and tear” type of arthritis and is associated with factors such as aging, injury or obesity
RA: Joint pain, swelling and stiffness; decreased range of motion; fever, fatigue and loss of energy can also occur
OA: Joint stiffness, pain and decreased range of motion
Location of Symptoms
RA: Often causes swelling in pairs of joints—especially smaller ones (both hands, both ankles, etc.)
OA: Usually affects weight-bearing joints (e.g., back, hip, knee) as well as the neck, small finger joints and big toe
Time of Day
RA: Generally worse in the morning or after long rest and lack of activity
OA: Tends to get worse with activity throughout the day
Age of Onset
RA: Usually occurs between 30 and 50 years of age, though can occur at any age
OA: Most commonly affects middle-aged and older people
RA: Approximately 1.3 million people have RA in the United States
OA: An estimated 27 million people have osteoarthritis in the United States
How does rheumatoid arthritis progress?
How is RA affecting me?Take The Quiz
How is RA treated?See Your Options
Which doctor sees people with RA?Find a Rheumatologist