Most people with arthritis have osteoarthritis. Most people with arthritis have osteoarthritis, which commonly occurs with age. The two are often confused—which can be endlessly frustrating for those with RA. osteoarthritis rheumatoid arthritis 0 16 0s16 7.
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5 0 1 0 6. Everybody says that arthritis is one word,» says Christopher Evans, DSc, PhD, the Maurice Mueller Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School in Boston. But the conditions are quite different. Here are 13 ways to tell the two apart. RA can come on quickly at any age, even in children. Unless you’ve been banged up on a sports field or in a car crash, it’s very unusual to see someone with osteoarthritis at a young age,» says Evans.
Approximately 50 million people in the United States have arthritis, including half of those aged 65 or older. About 27 million are cases of osteoarthritis and 1. Because of the big imbalance in numbers, people often think all arthritis is osteoarthritis, and may say, «Oh, my grandmother has that» to someone with RA, or may not realize that, yes, a child, teen, or young adult can indeed have arthritis. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the joints wears away with time, leaving bone rubbing on bone. In RA, the immune system cells think they recognize an invader and target the synovium, the joint’s lining. Cell-signaling molecules such as tumor necrosis factor and interleukins pour into the blood stream, causing fever, swelling, and other symptoms not seen in osteoarthritis. The inflammation caused by RA can lead to heart, lung, and eye damage.
People with RA need these too, plus stronger oral steroids, like prednisone, which can cause bone thinning. Called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, or DMARDs, these meds are known for their effectiveness, as well as their risk of side effects or infections. Both diseases affect the joints, but just where and how they cause trouble differs. RA generally attacks smaller joints first, from the wrists to the toes, leaving them painfully red, warm, and swollen, usually in matching sets, on both sides of the body. In osteoarthritis, larger weight-bearing joints such as hips and knees usually have the worst damage, and the problem joint may be on one side of the body but not the other.
Rheumatoid arthritis can spread from one hand to the other and then throughout the body to as many as 30 different joints,» Evans says, «whereas osteoarthritis affects a very limited number of joints. Joint deformities are more common in RA than OA. This can eventually lead to joint erosion and displacement. The hands of RA patients can become severely deformed. Fingers undergo a characteristic deviation and can appear pulled out to the side, notes Evans. Osteoarthritis patients are more likely to develop painful bony lumps or spurs in their fingers, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, or ankles.
People with either OA or RA may need joint replacement surgery. RA patients will develop firm nodules under the skin, frequently on the elbows, notes Stamatina Danielides, MD, a rheumatology fellow at Columbia University in New York City. These lumps, which vary in size and can be as large as a golf ball, can be quite painful and are often a sign of more severe disease, she says. Nodules are not associated with osteoarthritis. RA affects about three times as many women as men.