In this NCLEX study guide, you will learn about the difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
It is a degenerative condition of the joints that affects the other tissues of the joints.
It is a common type of arthritis experienced by most older adults. It can result from the wearing out of the protective cartilages that act as cushions at the tip of the bones. This condition mostly affects the joints on the knee, hips, spine, and hand.
Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
The symptoms experienced by patients with osteoarthritis can be easily managed despite the joint damage being usually irreversible.
- Aching pain on the joints during activities or after participating in a long activity
- Stiffness of the joints and muscle weakness that is usually experienced after a long rest or after waking up in the morning or also known as morning sickness
- Heberden’s Node and Bouchard’s Node which are outgrowths on the fingers found in the distal interphalangeal and proximal interphalangeal joints are prominent and very noticeable
- There is tenderness when these bony outgrowths are touched
- Crepitus or crackling sound when flexing the joints due to the rubbing of the bones
- The joints are uneven, hard, bony, and swelling
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Cartilage is a solid, slippery tissue that allows the frictionless movement of the joints. When these cartilages wear and tear and start to rub the bone, it can damage the entire joint. It can cause deterioration of the connective tissues and muscles that keep the joints together.
Risk Factors of Osteoarthritis
Some of the risk factors are beyond our control and some require lifestyle management to prevent the development of the disease.
- Family history. It can run in the blood. If your siblings or parents have osteoarthritis, there is an increased chance that you might get it too.
- Age. The wear and tear of the cartilages of the joints are more common in older adults. The risk of developing the condition increases with age and appears to people 50 years old and above.
- Environmental Factors. There are some modifiable risk factors to prevent or slow down the development of osteoarthritis such as our level of physical activities, occupation, diet, obesity, hormones, and the presence of a joint injury.
Is also a type of arthritis that can not only affect the joints but can also damage the other body systems. It is more of an autoimmune disorder that happens when our immune system starts to attack our body tissues.
Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Morning stiffness and pain that takes more than 30 minutes or longer
- Swelling of the joints that is warm to touch
- Permanent deformity of the hands due to persistent tenosynovitis or the swelling of the sheath lining around the tendons
- Affects more than a joint and small joint in the wrist, hands, and feet
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Our immune system naturally functions to fight off the body’s invaders including viruses and bacteria. With an autoimmune dysfunction, our immune system mistakenly identifies our healthy cells as foreign invaders and commands the release of inflammatory chemicals to attack them.
In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, it attacks the synovium or the tissue lining that surrounds the joints. When inflamed synovium becomes thicker, the joints will feel painful and tender to touch and movement will be limited and difficult.
Osteoarthritis Vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Although these two diseases show some similar characteristics, each of them has contrasting symptoms that require different treatments.
- Age. Osteoarthritis usually begins at a later part of life or as the patient becomes older while rheumatoid arthritis can begin at any time in life.
- Speed of disease onset. Osteoarthritis begins and develops slowly over the years while RA can develop rapidly over a week or a month.
- Symptoms in the joints. For osteoarthritis, the joints have no swelling but can have an aching pain and tenderness while for rheumatoid arthritis, the joints are more tender to touch with more stiffness and swelling.