How similar are arthritis and osteoarthritis?

Although arthritis and osteoarthritis are the same thing, arthritis can refer to other types of this condition, such as rheumatoid or juvenile arthritis, whereas osteoarthritis refers to a particular type of arthritis. But in general, the terms arthritis and osteoarthritis are simply alternate names, or synonyms, for each other. Other names include degenerative joint disease and hypertrophic osteoarthritis (hypertrophic means overgrowth).
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that attacks the joints, causing a symmetric, erosive, deforming polyarthritis. RA in many cases results in partial or total disability and is associated with a shortened life expectancy. Whereas RA is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own cells, in this case the synovial joints, OA is most often from overuse and joint injury. In contrast to RA, where patients typically complain of joint pain, swelling, tenderness, and early morning stiffness that lasts more than one hour and improves with activity, patients with OA will complain of joint pain that worsens with activity and short-acting stiffness after inactivity.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that normally provides a cushion between the bones in the joints wears away, causing pain, stiffness and reduced movement. Osteoarthritis most often occurs in the knees, hips, spine and hands.

Osteoarthritis can also damage ligaments and muscles. The pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis can make it difficult to do daily activities including work, play sports or even get around with ease.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Arthritis is a general term that covers more than 100 different conditions and diseases that affect the joints. The word arthritis simply means joint inflammation, which is the common feature of all forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a specific form of arthritis that involves a breakdown of the cartilage within a joint, followed by pain, swelling, stiffness and eventually a breakdown of the underlying bone. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.