How arthritis differs from osteoarthritis: symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment

Arthritis or Osteoarthritis - As determined by a physician

Arthritis and osteoarthritis are completely different diseases that are not very alike. By knowing the differences between these diseases, you can accurately diagnose and prescribe effective treatment.

Definition of arthritis and osteoarthritis

Arthritis is inflammation of the joint. Several or just one joint joints may be involved in the inflammatory process. It all depends on the etiology of origin.

Causes of arthritis:

  • hypothermia;
  • autoimmune reactions;
  • infections;
  • metabolic disorders;
  • injury.

Arthritis can be primary, that is, it can be an independent disease or be a consequence of another disease. It proceeds in an acute or chronic form. In the latter case, complications are likely.

Unlike arthritis, osteoarthritis is a chronic disease characterized by degenerative-dystrophic changes in the joint joint. It is not accompanied by an inflammatory process, although it can occur in its context.

Osteoarthritis is diagnosed more frequently in elderly patients and people who play sports, since it is the injuries that are the main cause of pathological changes.


Osteoarthritis and arthritis occur mainly in people over 35 years of age. According to statistics, one in three people have joint problems. Since these diseases are common, you need to know what the difference is between them.


According to the etiology of origin, there are differences and similarities. The following general factors can act as triggers of arthritis and osteoarthritis:

  • injury;
  • excessive and prolonged stress on the joint joints;
  • hypothermia;
  • congenital abnormalities of bone or connective tissue.

Of course, heredity plays an important role.

But there are provoking factors that are inherent to a single disease. The difference between osteoarthritis and arthritis is that the latter is caused by infections that cause inflammation. Additionally, metabolic disorders and immune system dysfunction may be to blame for the inflammatory process.

The onset of arthritis is associated with the general condition of the body. The disease can cause inflammation of other organs.

Osteoarthritis is a non-infectious disease. Its main reason for its development is trauma or age-related changes in cartilage tissue. Often the blame is not completely cured arthritis or arthritis that was not properly treated.

Osteoarthritis differs in that it can also be caused by other triggers:

  • hormonal disorders;
  • hemophilia;
  • intoxication of the body.

Osteoarthritis is an occupational disease of athletes.


In terms of symptoms, at first glance they may appear to be identical. The main symptoms are pain and decreased joint mobility. But after you've studied the characteristics, you can distinguish osteoarthritis from arthritis on your own and choose the right specialist to contact for therapy.

Artrolog deals with the treatment of joint joints. Sometimes the help of an orthopedic surgeon, orthopedic surgeon, and rheumatologist is required.

The table shows the difference between the symptoms of arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Symptoms Arthritis Osteoarthritis
Pain sensations Pain does not depend on physical activity. She is worried both during movement and at rest. The morning pains are characteristic, between 3: 00-6: 00 am At the initial stage, pain appears only under heavy loads, at rest it is absent. As the cartilage breaks down, the sensation of pain can constantly occur. There are dull night pains due to stagnation of blood
Restricted mobility Morning stiffness. A person cannot move normally until the joint develops A characteristic decrease in range of motion and, in later stages, complete immobilization of the joint
Crackle Unlike osteoarthritis, there is no creaking Clicks are heard in the joint when making movements in it. The worse the state of the cartilage tissue, the louder the crunch, as it occurs due to the abrasion of the cartilage tissue and the friction of the bones against each other
Visible joint changes There are some external differences. There is redness and swelling, local hyperthermia. Fluid collects in the joint cavity. Palpation is painful. In complicated cases, nodules appear The main difference is that the joint is deformed
Increase in body temperature In the acute stage, temperatures can reach 39 ° C Body temperature within normal limits
Systemic manifestations Weakness, chills, sweating, weight loss, headache, body aches None

The difference is that in terms of clinical manifestations, arthritis is similar to infectious diseases, whereas osteoarthritis is similar to joint injury.

In these diseases, both large and small joints can be affected.

The difference is that the following joints are more frequently involved in the inflammatory process:

  • knee;
  • doll;
  • fingers and toes.

Arthritis is characterized by massive damage to the joints. For example, today the ulnar joint is inflamed and tomorrow the shoulder joint is inflamed. Several asymmetric joints can become inflamed, which is completely unusual in osteoarthritis. The difference is that with it, the large joint joints are involved in the pathological process, since they carry the greatest load throughout life. These are the hip, knee, and ankle joints. Small: fingers and toes can suffer. Destructive processes often affect the intervertebral cartilage.

The most vulnerable place is the knee joint, as it tends to yield to stress. It wears out faster than other joints.


Joint X-ray

The differences between arthritis and osteoarthritis are also in the diagnosis. The first disease can be suspected after a laboratory examination. The diagnosis of arthrosis is made only after an instrumental examination.

You can distinguish osteoarthritis from arthritis by clinical and biochemical blood tests. In the first case, there is inflammation, and consequently, the leukocytes and ESR increase. With osteoarthritis, the difference is that the blood counts are normal. Degenerative changes can only be seen through x-ray. The images show areas of cartilage tissue destruction.

In controversial cases, take a rheumatology test.

How to diagnose arthritis or osteoarthritis? The most reliable methods to differentiate these diseases are CT and MRI, but these tests are expensive.

Treatment principles

Both diseases are difficult to treat. The worse the stadium, the sadder the prognosis. The course of treatment can be up to 6 months. With dystrophic changes, it takes years to recover.

Knowing the differences between arthritis and osteoarthritis, you can initiate the correct therapy in a timely manner. The treatment approach is different, since the etiology of the origin of the diseases is different. But the complexity of the approach to therapy remains common. Once it has been possible to determine if the patient has arthritis or osteoarthritis, it is necessary to find out the cause.

With an infectious origin of the disease, antibiotics are indispensable. The goal of arthritis therapy is to eliminate the infectious agent, reduce inflammation, and prevent it from spreading to other organs. Suitable drugs are macrolides, fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines.

In addition, local or systemic NSAIDs should be prescribed.

If the cause of arthritis is an autoimmune reaction, hormonal medications are prescribed. With metabolic disorders, for example, gout, you will need funds that affect the formation of uric acid and other substances. Gout medications may be used.

Unlike arthritis, the main task of osteoarthritis therapy is to restore cartilage tissue and restore joint mobility. For this purpose, chondroprotectors, hyaluronate preparations, NSAIDs are used internally and externally (if there is an inflammatory process). The patient must undergo a course of physical therapy exercises.

In the event of severe destruction of cartilage tissue in osteoarthritis, an operation to replace the joint is indicated.

Which disease is worse?

The answer to this question is simple, knowing the mechanism of development of the disease. The difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis of the knee joint is that the inflammatory process can be cured without consequences. It is possible to completely restore the mobility of the joint joint and lead a full life.

The difference between osteoarthritis and arthritis of the knee joint is that the former is characterized by irreversible changes. If treatment is not started on time, there is likely a disability. This is the answer to the question that is worse: arthritis or osteoarthritis. Of course, the latter type of disease is more dangerous for the joints.

But if we consider the damage to the body as a whole, arthritis is worse. This disease affects other organs and systems, including the liver, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, and heart. The consequences can be dire.

Joint diseases develop gradually, so their initial symptoms may not be noticeable. Unfortunately, this leads to the fact that the patient seeks treatment late, conservative therapy is unsuccessful or prolonged. To prevent arthritis or osteoarthritis from being caught by surprise, it is advisable to follow preventive measures, namely avoiding injuries, exerting effort and eating well.