Osteoarthritis vs. RA: What's the Difference?

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Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can both make joints painful, swollen, or stiff. But the two diseases have big differences. Osteoarthritis, known as OA, happens when the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones gradually breaks down. Aging, injuries, and extra weight are a few of the things that can raise your chances of getting it. And OA might make only one of your joints hurt. If it strikes the same joints on both sides of your body, one may feel much worse than the other.

Rheumatoid arthritis, also called RA, happens when your immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of your joints. Sometimes it affects organs like the skin, heart, and eyes, too. Experts think genes and certain things in the environment, like tobacco smoke, may trigger RA. And this disease tends to affect the same joints on both sides of the body similar. Also, you may get tired, lose weight, or run a fever when rheumatoid arthritis clears up.

You won't get these symptoms because of osteoarthritis. You can live well with either condition. Work closely with your doctor and stick to your treatment plan.