Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis: What’s the Difference?

Regency Nursing Centers and the folks who run our organization, have taught me more about healthcare just by just observing them, than I have ever learned from any continuing education seminar.

The information presented here is a subtle ode to these lessons. The nuances between these two related medical issues is totally unfamiliar territory to many healthcare “mavens” – unless they are part of the Regency family.

Regency is the place “Where Caring Comes to Life,” INDEED!

Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis: What’s the Difference?

50 million people in the US suffer from arthritis, making it the leading cause of disability in the country. The two most common types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Both cause joint pain, stiffness, and swelling; however, proper treatment requires a diagnosis that differentiates between them.

Here are the differences between these two very different diseases:

OA is by far the most common form of arthritis, affecting 27 million people in the US.

RA afflicts 1.3 million people in the US.

OA affects both men and women, although men tend to develop it at a younger age.

RA affects three times as many women as it does men.

OA is caused by wear and tear of the joints, and its incidence increases with age.

RA is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the joint tissue. Although it most commonly appears in middle age, RA can occur at any age.

OA causes stiffness, pain, and a decrease in range of motion in the affected joints.

RA, similarly, causes stiffness, joint pain, and decreased range of motion, but symptoms can also include warmth, swelling, and redness around the affected joints. RA also produces generalized symptoms, like fatigue and low-grade fever.

OA most commonly affects weight-bearing joints, such as the knee and hip, followed by the joints in the hands, the neck, and the back. It is possible for a person to have OA in just one joint: for example, just one finger on one hand.

RA causes “symmetric” symptoms: for example, it can occur in both hands or both knees.

OA symptoms tend to get worse as the day progresses, since OA is caused by overuse of the joint.

RA is usually worse in the morning, or any long period of inactivity.

OA does not usually alter the appearance of the affected joints.

RA often leads to joint deformity that is often severe.

OA typically affects only the joints.

RA is associated with increased risk of other diseases, such as anemia and heart disease.

OA is generally treated with NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and other painkillers.

RA requires aggressive treatment to minimize symptoms and halt the autoimmune response.

Both OA and RA can be managed with physical and occupational therapy, and therapeutic life changes, including weight management. At the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we offer the very best of care in a patient-centered environment. This means always listening to our residents and patients and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence. And always maintaining the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.

Contact us by clicking here to see which of our three facilities will best meet your needs or the needs of your loved one.

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