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Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis: What’s the Difference?

Rheumatoid Arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis: What’s the Difference?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the joints, leading to inflammation, pain, and potential deformity. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is a degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of cartilage, often due to wear and tear over time, resulting in pain and stiffness. Visit our board-certified rheumatologist, Dr. Nasser Nasseri, MD, and his team at Nasseri Clinic of Arthritic & Rheumatic Diseases. For more information, contact us or schedule an appointment online. We have convenient locations to serve you in Catonsville, Glen Burnie, Columbia, Baltimore, North Baltimore, Rosedale, and Edgewater, MD.

Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis: What's the Difference? | Nasseri Clinic Near Me in Catonsville, Glen Burnie, Columbia, Baltimore, North Baltimore, Rosedale, and Edgewater, MD
Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis: What's the Difference?

Table of Contents:

How do I know if it’s osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis?
What are the 5 symptoms of osteoarthritis?
What are the four stages of rheumatoid arthritis?
How do you know what type of arthritis you have?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) are two of the most common forms of arthritis, affecting millions worldwide. Despite sharing some symptoms, such as joint pain and stiffness, they are fundamentally different conditions with distinct causes, affected populations, and treatments. At Nasseri Clinic of Arthritic and Rheumatologic Disorders, our focus is on providing patients with detailed insights into both conditions, empowering them with the knowledge to understand their diagnosis and available treatment options. This introductory guide aims to shed light on the key differences between RA and OA, offering a foundation for further discussion on management and therapy strategies tailored to individual patient needs.

How do I know if it’s osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis?


Determining whether joint pain is due to osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA) hinges on recognizing their distinct characteristics and symptoms. OA, often associated with aging, results from wear and tear of the cartilage, leading to joint pain primarily during or after movement and tends to affect the hands, knees, hips, and spine. Symptoms generally focus on one set of joints and intensify over time. Conversely, RA is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, causing inflammation and pain. It can occur at any age and typically affects joints symmetrically (for example, both knees or both hands), often with symptoms like morning stiffness lasting longer than thirty minutes, generalized fatigue, and warm, swollen joints. While a physical examination and patient history are crucial, definitive diagnosis may require blood tests for specific markers and imaging studies to observe the extent of joint damage, helping differentiate between OA and RA.

What are the 5 symptoms of osteoarthritis?


Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by five primary symptoms that significantly impact the quality of life of those affected. First, joint pain, often aggravated by movement and alleviated with rest, is a telltale symptom, primarily impacting areas like the hands, knees, hips, and spine. Secondly, stiffness, particularly noted in the morning or after periods of inactivity, can limit mobility but typically eases with movement. Thirdly, a loss of flexibility may be observed, where the affected joint does not move through its full range of motion. Fourth, individuals may notice swelling around the joints, caused by a combination of soft tissue inflammation and excess joint fluid. Lastly, a distinctive symptom of OA is the presence of a crunching feeling or the sound of bone rubbing on bone, known as crepitus, which occurs due to the breakdown of cartilage in the joints.

What are the four stages of rheumatoid arthritis?


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) progresses through four stages, each marked by increasing severity and specific characteristics. In the first stage, swelling of the synovial lining causes joint pain and stiffness without causing visible damage to the joint. The second stage is characterized by a rapid division and growth of cells, or “pannus,” which leads to thickening of the synovium and can result in cartilage damage, although the joint’s bone might remain unaffected. By the third stage, the inflammation caused by the pannus starts to erode the cartilage and eventually, the bone, causing deformities and significantly reducing the joint’s functionality. The fourth and final stage is marked by fibrosis, where the inflamed synovium is converted into scar tissue, leading to immobility of the joint and potential fusion of the joint bones, significantly impacting the patient’s quality of life due to loss of mobility and increased pain. At each stage, symptoms and damage become more pronounced, necessitating early diagnosis and comprehensive management to slow progression and preserve joint function.

How do you know what type of arthritis you have?


Identifying the specific type of arthritis you have is crucial for effective treatment and management. At Nasseri Clinic of Arthritic and Rheumatologic Disorders, we employ a personalized approach, combining a detailed patient history, physical examinations, and advanced diagnostic tools to accurately diagnose your condition. Whether you’re experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or another form of arthritis, our team is dedicated to providing you with the clarity and care you need. If you’re concerned about your symptoms and their impact on your life, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can contact us or book an appointment online to begin your journey toward relief and better joint health. Your well-being is our priority, and we are here to support you every step of the way. We serve patients from Catonsville MD, Glen Burnie MD, Columbia MD, Baltimore MD, North Baltimore MD, Rosedale MD, Edgewater MD, Hebbville MD, Woodlawn MD, Pasadena MD, Jacobsville MD, Ellicott City MD, Laurel MD, Dundalk MD, Halethorpe MD, Overlea MD, Parkville MD, Riva MD, Annapolis MD, Ferndale MD, and surrounding areas.

Locations of Nasseri Clinic of Arthritic and Rheumatic Diseases

Catonsville, MD

  • 700 Geipe Rd, Suite 200B, Catonsville, MD 21228
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Glen Burnie, MD

  • 203 Hospital Dr, Suite 300B, Glen Burnie, MD 21061
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Columbia, MD

  • 5500 Knoll North Dr, Suite 250B, Columbia, MD 21045
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North Baltimore, MD

  • 3333 N. Calvert St, Suite 540B, Baltimore, MD 21218
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Rosedale, MD

  • 9114 Philadelphia Rd., Suite 208B, Rosedale, MD 21237
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Baltimore, MD

  • 724 Maiden Choice Lane, Suite 204B, Baltimore, MD 21228
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Edgewater, MD

  • 3168 Braverton St., Suite 330B, Edgewater, MD 21037
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