The Difference Between Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

rheumatoid arthritis

We have all heard about “old Arthur” that issue where your joints are hurting and stiff. It keeps you from exercise and even doing much walking. But did you know there are over 100 types of arthritis? Wow! And I’ve only really heard of three of them.

Did you know there are over 100 types of arthritis? #osteoarthritis #rheumatoidarthritis Share on X

So anyway, Let’s talk about the two that I have: Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

OsteoArthritis (OA)

OA is the most common type of arthritis. It’s what your grandparents probably have. Over 30 million adults struggle with OA. It’s caused by wear and tear and is a degenerative type of arthritis. OA attacks the cartilage at the end of your bones.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

On the other hand, RA is an autoimmune, inflammatory, systemic disease. Your immune system attacks healthy cells by “accident”, resulting in inflammation, swelling, and pain. It attacks mainly small joints such as fingers, wrists, and knee joints. As time goes by it also affects the heart, lungs, and eyes.

The effect of RA on your joints is variable. The inflammation and pain spikes and lolls from week to week, or even from day-to-day. One day you can jump right out of bed, but the next day you can hardly move. Due to its unpredictability, it is hard to understand. Many times family and friends can’t understand and may easily accuse you of making it up. Thus, we call it an invisible disease.

There is no cure for RA. Many supplements have made their hype about resolving the problem but to no avail. Certainly, exercise is helpful for managing RA. And there are anti-inflammatory diets that are helpful. But none of this can cure the disease.

Fatigue and morning stiffness are daunting issues for the patient. Even with treatment, these problems are persistent.

Early detection is important. Treatment can slow the progression of pain and inflammation and even deformation of the joints and prolong the need to retire early or apply for disability.

There is no single test for an RA diagnosis. Doctors consider symptoms such as joint swelling and morning stiffness. Blood tests detect rheumatoid factor and anti-citrullinated protein antibodies, which are markers for systemic inflammation. X-ray, ultrasound, and MRI scans can also help determine joint health.

As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. In most cases, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of your body.

About 40 percent of the people who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience signs and symptoms that don’t involve the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many nonjoint structures, including:

  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Kidneys
  • Salivary glands
  • Nerve tissue
  • Bone marrow
  • Blood vessels

My Symptoms

I was diagnosed in 2013 with RA though we are certain I was suffering long before this. When chronic pain first became obvious to me, I was placed on steroids. These steroids masked the RA, making my blood lad markers normal. When we got my fibromyalgia under control, my knees began to swell. So my rheumatologist checked my blood work again. Sure enough, they were high.

From the list above, I have already been experiencing Chronic Dry Eye and Nerve tissue issues. This summer, I began having heart and bone marrow issues even though my blood markers are good.


About Mandy Farmer

Pastor's Wife (retired) &  Chronic Pain Warrior blogs about how to make it through anything by relating her own life experiences to her writing. She is passionate about her love for the Lord and desires to spread that passion to others. She has a great desire to encourage women who are following behind her.

View all posts by Mandy Farmer

2 Comments on “The Difference Between Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis?”

  1. Mandy I understand. I have lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. It has been a terrible struggle. I was a classmate at Asbury. Ambassador class. Just found your blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.