The Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Around 23% of American adults suffer from arthritis, and that only covers cases officially diagnosed by doctors. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, but the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and it’s important to distinguish between these two types during diagnosis.  

Dr. Philip Regala serves patients in Naples, Florida and the surrounding areas. He has years of experience helping patients with different types of arthritis manage their conditions and enjoy active, healthy lives.

Arthritis basics

Arthritis is an umbrella term used to refer to chronically swollen, tender, and aching joints. This condition is the leading cause of disability in adults, and it can affect any joint in the body. Anyone can be diagnosed with arthritis, regardless of their age or background. However, certain factors can put you at risk, including: 

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis both lead to chronic joint pain, but they’re caused by different factors.  


Osteoarthritis (OA), or degenerative joint disease, is caused by general wear-and-tear over time. Your joints are protected by cartilage, which absorbs shock and keeps your bones from rubbing together. As you get older, the cartilage between your joints wears away, which can lead to arthritis. 

This form of arthritis is the most common, affecting over 32 million people in the United States alone. It causes the following symptoms:

As your joints degrade, the pain becomes worse. You might experience swelling, limited range of motion, and even instability in the affected joints. There’s no undoing the wear-and-tear associated with osteoarthritis, but treatment can prevent further damage and alleviate your symptoms. 

Rheumatoid arthritis 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes arthritis in the joints. It occurs when your immune system attacks and destroys your own synovial tissues by mistake, leading to the following symptoms: 

There’s no known cause or cure for rheumatoid arthritis, and the disease can only be slowed, not stopped. However, there are plenty of treatment options to help you manage this disease and its symptoms. 

Getting a diagnosis 

If you’re suffering from joint pain, Dr. Regala will run all the proper tests to make sure your diagnosis is accurate. Once he knows what kind of arthritis you have, he can begin treatment. 

To get a professional diagnosis and learn more about your treatment options, call 239-325-1131, or book an appointment online

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