ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Osteoarthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis

Updated on January 25, 2010

Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis - What the differences are and how to treat them

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are similar in the fact that they both affect joints and result in painful swelling and inflammation.  However, there are many differences between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  It’s important to understand the differences between the two because the treatment for each is very different.  Successful treatment of your joint pain relies on it.

Adequate research will help you to determine whether you have osteoarthritis vs rheumatoid arthritis.  There are numerous resources online that will help to identify the symptoms of osteoarthritis (or the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis for that matter) as well as help you find a treatment.  It’s important that you thoroughly research treatment options and always consult with your doctor before committing to a course of action.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition, meaning that the condition will slowly worsen over time.  With OA the cartilage surrounding the joint deteriorates and joint movement become increasingly stiff and painful.  While it can affect any joint, generally osteoarthritis affects the joints most used throughout the day: feet, knees, spine and hips.  The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are painful joints, swollen joints, the loss of flexibility as well as increased stiffness. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease where antibodies mistakenly attack the synovial membrane that surrounds the joint.  One of the easiest symptoms to recognize rheumatoid arthritis (vs. osteoarthritis) is that the joints affected are mainly in the hands or feet and that it happens symmetrically.  The most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis painful joints and swelling as well as inflammation that flares up.  In some cases, the joints can develop nodules that are thought to be a result of the breakdown of the synovial membrane.  Rheumatoid arthritis occurs in approximately 1% of the world’s population and is thought to be linked genetically. 

There are several treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis.  Generally, some sort of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Advil or Aspirin is used for everyday joint pain.  Alternatively, there has been a lot of studies into fish oil and rheumatoid arthritis; it is believed that fish oil’s natural anti-inflammatory properties can replace NSAIDs.  There are other rheumatoid arthritis natural remedies.  In fact focusing on rheumatoid arthritis and diet can help to relieve symptoms.  Many people have had success in eliminating certain “suspect” foods from their diet to prevent flare ups and alleviate joint pain.  However, for very severe cases, it may be necessary to have surgery to help with the pain.

The treatments are much different for osteoarthritis (vs. rheumatoid arthritis).  Most cases of osteoarthritis are treated with hot and/or cold packs.  These serve to reduce swelling during inflammation and to increase blood flow to help with the stiffness.  Also therapies such as massaging the affected area or physical therapy can improve the joint function for osteoarthritis.  For severe cases of osteoarthritis a cortisone shot can be given.

One of the best ways to treat either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis is naturally through the use of diet and supplements.  A well balanced diet is important to maintain health and immune system function.  Omega 3 fatty acids (as found in fish oil or cod liver oil supplements) have been clinically shown to be anti-inflammatory and to take the place of Advil or Aspirin.  Glucosamine chondroitin is another supplement that has been shown to help with joint flexibility movement.  These supplements offer a way to treat arthritis naturally with no ill side effects.  Keep in mind that any supplement takes time to work, typically 10-12 weeks before showing any results.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JTrempe profile image


      8 years ago from CA, USA

      As a physical therapist I've helped hundreds of people with both osteoarthritis and RA pain. Exercise is an important treatment aspect. If you don't know what exercises to do, seek help from a physical therapist who can help set up an appropriate exercise program for you.

      For free information and treatment recommendations for common joint pain conditions, visit


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)