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Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis: Which Kind Do You Have?

By Expert HERWriter
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Which type of arthritis do you have? Lev Dolgachov/PhotoSpin

Do you wake up in the mornings with stiffness in your hands or your feet? Are your knee joints warm and swollen? Do they get worse when it rains?

Do you look at your older relatives and see that they have the same problems, or that their pain has gotten worse as they got older?

You probably identified this as arthritis. The question is, do you know whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis?

It might not seem like an important distinction but it is. Understanding the differences can help you have a better conversation with your health care provider and get the right treatment more quickly.

Since these are two different types of diseases, the diagnosis criteria and treatment options are different. Let’s understand them better.

Osteoarthritis arthritis defined

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. This occurs when there is deterioration of the cartilage that lines the tops of your bones in the joint area. It tends to occur in the hands, neck, back, knees and hips.

Typical symptoms may be pain or tenderness in the affected joint. In the morning you might experience stiffness when you first get up for about 20 minutes, then as you move around the pain will subside.

You might lose full range of motion in the joint over time. Extra small bits of bone creating hard lumps in the area of the joint are called bone spurs.

There doesn't seem to be symmetry, or pain in the same joint on both sides of the body, because this type of arthritis is due to wear and tear on the particular joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis defined

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. In autoimmune diseases the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue cause damage, pain and swelling.

The damage usually starts in the lining of the smaller joints like the fingers and the toes, and can progress to larger joints like the ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders and hips. Over time if the inflammation is not controlled, it will cause deformity and alteration of function in that joint.

There usually seems to be pain in the same joint on both sides of the body. Since it is an inflammatory disease there can be periods of “flare ups” and remission.

Think about your symptoms to identify which type of arthritis is plaguing you or runs in your family history.

Also be aware that it is possible to have both types of arthritis in the same area. Or you might have different types of arthritis in your body. For example you might have osteoarthritis in your knee because of an old sports injury, and rheumatoid arthritis in your fingers.

The better you can describe your symptoms to your health care provider, the more options you will have for treatment and relief from pain.

Live Vibrantly,

Dr. Dae

Dr. Dae's website: www.healthydaes.com

Dr. Dae's book: Daelicious! Recipes for Vibrant Living can be purchased @ www.healthydaes.com

Dr. Dae's Bio:

Dr. Daemon Jones is your diabetes reversal, hormones, metabolism and weight loss expert. Dr. Dae is a naturopathic doctor who treats patients all over the country using Skype and phone visits. Visit her or schedule a free consultation at her website www.HealthyDaes.com/


"Osteoarthritis." Definition. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.

"Related Features." Diets for Arthritis Inflammation, Food that Fight Inflammation. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.

"Rheumatoid arthritis." Definition. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Aug. 2014.

"Rheumatoid arthritis." How do rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis differ?. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Aug. 2014.
Key words: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis

Reviewed August 8, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

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