13:10 PM

The Difference Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

TheHealthy discusses the different causes, treatments and diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) according to experts including HSS rheumatologist, Dee Dee Wu, MD.

Dr. Wu explained a primary difference between OA and RA, is that with inflammatory arthritis such as RA, symptoms are worse when you’ve been at rest. “You tend to feel more stiff and achy when you first get up in the morning, or if you’ve been inactive all day long. The joint will feel better with movement,” said Dr. Wu. With OA, stiffness is common after periods of inactivity, however the biggest trigger tends to be too much activity. “The more you use the joint, the more it hurts,” she cited. 

While the joints involved can overlap between the two conditions, they’re often pretty distinct. “OA is more commonly seen in large weight-bearing joints, like the hips, knees, and lower back. Areas that take on a lot of stress,” noted Dr. Wu.

Additionally, there are plenty of medications available for RA to help manage and slow progression, however that is not the case for OA. “If it’s [OA] mild and manageable with physical therapy and NSAIDs, we typically do that first,” said Dr. Wu. “Surgery is a last resort. Joint replacements will fix the problem, but surgery comes with its own risks and recovery challenges, so doctors typically try other less invasive management options before resorting to surgery. Weight loss is also proven to be helpful if it’s a contributing factor for osteoarthritis,” she added.

Read the full article at TheHealthy.com.