Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Risk Factors

Jia Hui

Jia Hui is a content marketer who loves helping others and hopes to make this world a kinder place in any way she can.

Jia Hui

Jia Hui is a content marketer who loves helping others and hopes to make this world a kinder place in any way she can.

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Inflammation of any number of joints is a general characteristic of arthritis, a disorder that falls under this classification. Numerous factors, such as joint wear and tear, obesity, along with immune system attacks, can lead to this illness. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are two of a great deal of widespread of the more than 100 kinds of arthritis that concern with joint damage and joint stiffness. They do, however, each have unique causes and therapies.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

As cartilage degenerates and the joints begin to rub against one another over time, osteoarthritis, a kind of arthritis otherwise known as wear-and-tear arthritis, emerges. When cartilage degrades, the joints lose the cushioning necessary for appropriate flexion and extension. Also, the membrane that covers the joint called the synovial membrane becomes inflamed as a result of this loss of support. The bones gradually rub against one another as cartilage continues to deteriorate, which can result in mild joint discomfort, stiffness, and edema.

Osteoarthritis, in which 80% of patients has limitations on movement, in its typical forms might influence any minor joint aches, however, it most common forms of this disease usually affects the neck, knees, hips, and knees.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

An inflammatory condition known as rheumatoid arthritis, which also affects the elbows, hands, ankles, knees, and feet, is another prevalent form of arthritis. Statistics show that 45,000 Singaporeans has rheumatoid arthritis in 2015. Since rheumatoid arthritis damages the respiratory and cardiovascular systems along with other body organs, this autoimmune disease is widely referred to also as a systemic disease.

Immune system problems, when the immune system is targeting the synovial membrane, are a result of rheumatoid arthritis. It is unknown what causes the immune system malfunctions to confuse the synovial membrane for an alien intruder and attack it as though it were an illness or virus. Numerous forms of rheumatoid arthritis affects and exist, including seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, in addition to more frequent forms of arthritis like psoriatic arthritis.

How Are Both Diagnosed?

The two major types of osteoarthritis have different origins, symptoms, and treatments, therefore it’s critical to identify the kind of both osteoarthritis a patient suffers from in order to create a successful treatment strategy.

How Osteoarthritis is Diagnosed

Osteoarthritis is often identified by a battery of tests, a physical examination, and a review of the patient’s prior medical history. The following common tests are used to identify osteoarthritis:

  • Using ultrasound to examine the tendons and ligaments around the injured joint
  • Analyses of synovial fluid are performed to detect deterioration.
  • Performing a closed synovial biopsy to extract some synovial tissue and evaluate it
  • Joint inspection using an arthroscope using a tiny camera
  • Arthrocentesis testing to examine the status of the joint and drain joint fluid

How Rheumatoid Arthritis is Diagnosed

Various examinations, physical assessments, blood tests, and X-rays are often used to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, doctors may examine the afflicted joints to see if they are swollen, red, or heated, as these symptoms are suggestive of rheumatoid arthritis. The following tests might be performed after this physical examination:

  • Tests for auto-antibodies known as anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides, or anti-CCPs, are available.
  • To determine which C-reactive proteins are created in response to inflammation, do a C-reactive protein, or CRP, test.
  • RF test to evaluate RF levels, an antibody that is frequently present when rheumatoid arthritis exists
  • The ESR test measures the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and looks for high values that indicate inflammation.
  • Joint evaluation with MRI and ultrasound
  • X-rays to look for any joint damage

Contrasting Root Causes


A single joint usually serves as the site of genesis for osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative condition. Such a condition, contrary to rheumatoid arthritis, is non-inflammatory; it causes the connective cartilage surrounding the multiple joints to decay or degenerate and, in time, the bones to do the same. Given that osteoarthritis develops with aging and through years of wear on several joints, it is commonly referred to as wear-and-tear arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

The systemic nature of rheumatoid arthritis allows it to affect several painful joints and body parts at once. A systemic illness is one which influences several biological systems simultaneously rather than just one organ or part of the body.

The immune system of a person with rheumatoid arthritis views their joints and the synovial tissues that surround them as foreign invaders that demand to be removed from the body. The white blood cells quickly reach the location of the joint in reaction to these foreign invaders, where they produce antibodies that will kill the deemed threat.

Contrasting Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis have varied symptoms because of the many causes that contribute to each condition’s onset.


In general, rheumatoid arthritis patients may first suffer fatigue, discomfort, and depression before other symptoms appear weeks to months later. These are typical signs of systemic disorders because they affect vital bodily systems including the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. These systems play crucial roles in the body, and any harm to them can impair physiological, neurological, and physical processes.

Rheumatoid arthritis also causes the following symptoms:

  • A minor fever
  • Joint stiffness in the morning
  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Joint and generalized body pain
  • Inflammation and redness in the joints
  • Loss of body weight
  • Joints break and muscles weakened

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Osteoarthritis presents differently across the body considering that it affects the cartilage between joints rather than internal organs, therefore symptoms are often felt surrounding the joints. In addition to the following signs and symptoms,  stiffness, major joint pain, and edema are typical.

  • Pain near the injured or affected joint
  • Joints that support weight lose way or lock
  • Morning stiffness
  • A joint ache that becomes worse during the day
  • Muscles surrounding the arthritic joint are weakened.
  • Distorted or skeletal joints
  • The joints snapping and cracking

Contrasting Risk Factors

At least a few risk factors are shared by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and having a family member with rheumatoid arthritis may increase your chance of developing it yourself. The same is true for osteoarthritis, and carrying too much weight may also contribute to both conditions.

These other factors also increase your chance of developing osteoarthritis:

  • reaching older age
  • a broken joint
  • misuse of a joint
  • joint deformities, such as smashed knees or legs that are not the same length

It’s unclear what factors increase the likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis. The risk may be increased by smoking, being a woman, and being around hazardous materials like silica or asbestos, according to the evidence.

Which Parts of the Body Are Affected?

Osteoarthritis might damage any joint, however, it frequently affects joints including the thumbs, hips, back, big toes, knees, and neck that have been damaged or overused.

In addition to causing joint issues in the body, rheumatoid arthritis is particularly prevalent in the tiny joints in the hands and feet. Also, rheumatoid arthritis similarly affects the knees, elbows, shoulders, and knees but compared to osteoarthritis, it tends to spare the back.

Which Is More Painful— Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis?

It is very difficult to anticipate how rheumatoid arthritis may develop. Since the symptoms of osteoarthritis are confined to the damaged joints, it is generally easier to forecast, but osteoarthritis may continue to be a very handicapping condition.

Both disorders result in significant functional loss and impairment and there are therapies for rheumatoid arthritis that can reduce the progression of the condition and lead to remission. Considering environmental factors play a role in osteoarthritis, there is a trend over time that may eventually result in surgery. In terms of rheumatoid arthritis, remission typically refers to a time when there are either no or few symptoms.

Can Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis Co-exist?

Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are conceivable, and since the latter is more likely to happen as you age, persons who already have rheumatoid arthritis may eventually develop it as well. Years after receiving an osteoarthritis diagnosis, one may develop rheumatoid arthritis in the elderly.

Geriatric rheumatoid arthritis, otherwise known as elderly onset rheumatoid arthritis, first appears beyond the age of 65. It has more systemic symptoms and typically affects major joints compared to the tiny, small joints in the hands and feet.

It might be difficult to diagnose and treat both of these illnesses when they co-exist. Both patients and medical professionals find it challenging to distinguish between pain brought on by either illness. This may result in issues with movement and function as well as delayed therapy.

Treatment Options

How Osteoarthritis is Treated

Although osteoarthritis cannot be cured or reversed, doctors can assist patients manage its uncomfortable symptoms by providing a variety of therapies and painkillers.

  • Intra-articular injections: Injections into the joints, such as those of platelet-rich plasma, hyaluronic acid, BOTOX, or corticosteroids, can help ease discomfort. Such injections can replace the cushioning that the cartilage used to offer before it deteriorated.
  • Physical therapy: It can assist to improve the joints that are afflicted by osteoarthritis since it affects the muscles and joints around them. The signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis can also be reduced with the aid of pain management classes for patients.
  • Pain-relieving drugs: A number of drugs can be used to treat osteoarthritis symptoms, including numbing and to reduce pain and stiffness and reducing swelling. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, sometimes known as NSAIDs, and Tylenol are among these therapies.

How Rheumatoid Arthritis is Treated

Sadly, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but we may assist patients to manage their symptoms by offering them a variety of drugs and other forms of therapy.

  • Disease-modifying medications: Several treatments, referred to as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or DMARDs, can be used to either delay or stop the course of rheumatoid arthritis. Also, the joints can avoid more injury with the help of these therapies.
  • Pain-relieving drugs: Anti-inflammatory medicines or NSAIDs and corticosteroids are two examples of medications that can assist to decrease swelling and inflammation along with the discomfort associated with rheumatoid arthritis for just a few minutes.
  • Physical therapy: Patients might benefit from sessions that focus on strengthening their muscles and joints. In order to reduce joint discomfort, these sessions might also teach patients new methods of functioning or carrying out daily duties. 

Elderly co-living services and senior group homes in Singapore provide cutting-edge techniques for diagnosis and therapy to evaluate your illness or assist you in managing your symptoms, whether you are aware that your elderly loved ones are exhibiting signs of either.

Although they are separate types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis both impact your joints, and both disorders may be treated to lessen their symptoms. If you believe your elderly loved ones are progressively developing signs of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, call your doctor right once. They can, if necessary, suggest a medical professional who can help you determine the best course of action for your problem.

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