The Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

As the country’s leading cause of disability, the Arthritis Foundation reports that more than 50 million adults and 300,000 kids in the U.S. have some type of arthritis. Used as an umbrella term, there are more than 100 types of arthritis but the two most common are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. But how do the two differ and what can be done to combat the pain associated with each?


Osteoarthritis is a result of the smooth cartilage joint surface wearing out and typically begins with an isolated joint, but it can also be a result of inflammation. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis include but are not limited to:

  • Pain
  • Muscle stiffness and weakness
  • Swelling
  • Deformed joints
  • Reduced range of motion 
  • Cracking and creaking

It is the most common form of arthritis as it is a result of wear and tears over a lifetime. The following conditions can also make you more susceptible to Osteoarthritis including:

  • Heredity
  • Obesity
  • Joint overuse
  • Injury

If you have already been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, there is a greater likelihood you will develop Osteoarthritis. 

To combat Osteoarthritis pain, medications, lifestyle changes, therapy, and/or surgery may be necessary. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Aarthritis is an autoimmune disease, which attacks the tissue that surrounds and protects the joints. Unlike Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis targets several joints at a time. 

Symptoms of Rrheumatoid Aarthritis include: 

  • The symmetrical nature of the disease such as having arthritis in both hips, knees, etc.
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

As a progressive, chronic disease, it can be disabling for patients and affect the appearance and function of hands and joints over time. Along with impacting joints, Rheumatoid Arthritis may also affect other organs including the heart, eyes, and lungs. Though there is no cure, aggressive treatment may put Rheumatoid Arthritis into remission. 

To manage the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis, medications, surgery and lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms though not cure the disease itself. 

According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, “both incidence and prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis are two to three times greater in women than in men.”

But what can be done to combat your pain?

I have arthritis pain–what can I do?

While the causes and types of arthritis differ, there are common practices you may try to reduce pain and get back to living life. More often than not, a doctor will treat arthritis with anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers. But with harsh side effects and concerns of dependency, how else can you manage your Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis pain?

  • Get Moving. We aren’t saying you should run a marathon daily. Instead, do what you can to support muscle and joint movement. Low-impact exercises like swimming and yoga are great places to start. 
  • Hot and Cold. When it comes to muscle stiffness and soreness, heat is your best friend. Utilizing a warm bath or a heating pad to limber those muscles. But if you are experiencing swelling, a cool compress will benefit you more.
  • Try Far Infrared Therapy. The patented technology inside our far infrared device can help relieve the symptoms of arthritis. Resting the device on affected areas once or twice a day for 30 minutes or more can boost circulation and decrease painful inflammation.

NOTE: Content included here is not medical advice, and only is intended as information for adults. Always consult with your health care professional before making changes to diet, exercise, medication, or before use of any product or device.