Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis


Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two forms of arthritis, which present the same signs and symptoms, and thus, they require a rigorous differential diagnosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011), osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis as it affects 27 million adults, while rheumatoid arthritis is the least common form of arthritis as it affects about 1.5 million adults in the United States. Hahn and Kim (2010) identify juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as a rare form of arthritis that affects children under the age of 16 years and persists for more than 6 weeks. In this view, this essay seeks to differentiate osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis with a view of enhancing the understanding of their pathogenesis, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment.

Pathophysiology and Pathogenesis: Similarities and Differences

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are similar disorders in terms of sites that affect the body. Both disorders affect joints and cripple patients. Moreover, the pathophysiology of both disorders is enduring joint pains with accompanying signs and symptoms such as swollen joints, stiffness of joints, warm joints, and restricted mobility (Huether & McCcance, 2012). In the case study of Callie, a 7-year-old girl, who suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, swollen and stiff joints such as wrists, ankles, knees, and elbows were evident (Cyr, 2012). The similarities in signs and symptoms complicate the diagnosis and the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

However, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis differ in terms of their pathogenesis and pathophysiology. Osteoarthritis occurs due to the mechanical stress on the joints and the biomechanics, which cause degeneration of the joint bones owing to the breakdown of cartilage, muscles, tendons, and joint structure (McPhee & Hammer, 2012). In contrast, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disorder of the joints, which occurs due to the autoimmune disorder. Hahn and Kim (2010) identify human leukocyte antigens, rheumatoid factor, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin 1, 6, and 17, and C-reactive proteins as some of the immune molecules that trigger juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Hence, the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis differentiate their occurrence among patients.

Patient Factors (Day 3 Response)

Genes and age are the two major predisposing factors of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. If a family lineage has a history of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, the family members are prone to these disorders (Huether & McCcance, 2012). Genes cause malfunctioning of chondrocytes and proteins that retain water in the joints, and thus, leads to the dehydration of cartilage in the body and the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis.

In rheumatoid arthritis, genes trigger inflammatory reactions, which make chondrocytes and cartilage in joints degenerate. Hence, genetic factors influence the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Age is also a predisposing factor for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. High incidences of arthritis are more common in adults than in children because of the aging cells and tissues of bones and cartilage (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). The aging of cartilage, tendons, and muscles causes osteoarthritis. Moreover, as the predisposition to autoimmune disease increases with age, it implies that the diagnosis and the treatment should consider the age factor.

Day 6 Response

Two colleagues cited gender and behavior as some of the predisposing factors of arthritis that influence the diagnosis and the treatment of arthritis. Since men and women have different types of hormones, they experience varied predispositions to arthritis. Change of hormones during the menopausal and post-menopausal periods predisposes women to osteoarthritis (Huether & McCcance, 2012). Furthermore, behaviors such as physical activity and smoking increase the occurrence of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, respectively (McPhee, & Hammer, 2012). Hence, gender and behavior are significant predisposing factors of arthritis.


Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two forms of arthritis that are common in the population. These two conditions present similar signs and symptoms such as swollen, stiff, and painful joints. However, their difference is that osteoarthritis occurs due to mechanical stress on the joints, while rheumatoid arthritis occurs due to an autoimmune disorder. Genes, age, gender, and behavior predispose individuals to these two forms of arthritis.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Arthritis-related statistics. Web.

Cyr, J. (2012). 7-year-old from Aroostook County chosen as a youth ambassador for Bangor Arthritis Walk. Bangor Daily News. Web.

Hahn, Y., & Kim, J. (2010). Pathogenesis and clinical manifestation of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Korean Journal of Pediatrics, 53(11), 921-930. Web.

Huether, S. E., & McCcance, K. L. (2012). Understanding pathophysiology. St. Louis, MO: Mosby. Web.

McPhee, J., & Hammer, D. (2012). Pathophysiology of disease: An introduction to clinical medicine. New York, USA: McGraw-Hill Medical. Web.

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