Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Be Mistaken for Osteoarthritis?

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There are certain cases where it's not that easy to distinguish Rheumatoid Arthritis from Osteoarthritis at an initial meeting. A combination of the history the physical exam findings, laboratories and X-rays or MRI's is usually sufficient to make the distinguishing diagnosis. Sometimes it may difficult to distinguish between rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.

Generally speaking the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are slightly worse than the symptoms of osteoarthritis, and have the typical traditional symptoms of inflamation such as pain, swelling and even redness. The stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis tends to last much longer 2-3 hours in the morning and sometimes all day than the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Your Rheumatologist will usually be able to tell the difference between the two diseases by taking a careful history performing a detailed physical exam, performing labs and X-rays as indicated.