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difference between RA and OA

(33 Posts)
travelsafar Wed 28-Oct-20 09:03:36

How can you tell the difference between RA and Osteo arthritis? I have swollen finger and toe joints which are very painful at times. I have 3 herniated discs plus degeneration of the lower spine, although i think this may be now creeping higher up as some time i get acute soreness in the middle of my spine. My gp and hospital consultant have never said which arthritis it is. I have an appointment next month at the hospital so i will be asking this question. Just interested to know if any GN people can help with info.

Charleygirl5 Wed 28-Oct-20 09:22:39

RA is an autoimmune disease- OA is wear and tear of your joints.

I would say that you have OA. There is obviously a lot more to both but that is it in a nutshell.

EllanVannin Wed 28-Oct-20 09:30:02

I tend to say that as you age, it's osteoarthritis which hits a lot of us because the cartilage and ligaments between joints wears down in time thus causing pain as the " cushion " thins out creating bone to bone contact, with swelling too.

Ice packs or heat packs are usually applied to affected areas which are within reach, knees/elbows/ base of spine.

Oopsadaisy4 Wed 28-Oct-20 09:33:25

DD2 has OA and is in a lot of pain, apart from surgery on her knees ( whenever that will happen) there is very little they can do about her hands, apart from pain killers which knock her out.

It’s very hard to watch her trying to cope as she is only in her 40s.

FannyCornforth Wed 28-Oct-20 09:38:23

Oopsadaisy I'm in the same predicament as your daughter.
The HCPs say that the level of wear and tear is what you may see in one 30 years my senior.
It was diagnosis at the start of the year and I'm deteriorating at a worrying rate sad
I'm waiting to get the results of an MRI on my spine.

CassieJ Wed 28-Oct-20 09:40:30

I too have swollen finger joints and have been told it is OA. I have been told it is wear and tear and nothing can be done for it.
RA is an autoimmune disease. My mother has this alongside OA and is on immunosuppressants for it. It is incredibly painful.

Oopsadaisy4 Wed 28-Oct-20 12:30:23

Fanny DD has been told that she has to have a blood test as the Dr. is concerned at the speed that the OA is affecting her hands, the knees have been a problem for some years, but the hands have gone from ok to awful just this Past year.
It’s a worry, hopefully it isn’t a virus and that you can both be helped.

Tweedle24 Wed 28-Oct-20 12:41:14

When I started having arthritis signs and symptoms, GP took bloods for a test which differentiates. Luckily, mine is OA, not RA.
It might be worth asking GP to diagnose as there are differences in treatment and disease progress.

Tweedle24 Wed 28-Oct-20 12:42:08

Sorry Oopsadaisy4 — crossed post

crazyH Wed 28-Oct-20 12:43:54

I would agree with Charleygirl.

Two friends of mine have Rhematoid Arthritis and strangely enough, were diagnosed the same year, about 20 years ago. Modern treatments mean you can lead a fairly pain-controlled life. Both of them had knee replacements.
You must ask your doctor what the diagnosis is. RA is usually diagnosed after a series of blood tests.
I think , after a certain age, we all suffer from OA.
Don't worry too will be well looked after. I hear that RA is one illness, with the treatment options . Good luck!!!

crazyH Wed 28-Oct-20 12:45:16

With several treatment options

Oopsadaisy4 Wed 28-Oct-20 12:46:56

CrazyH I agree about the options but it seems harsh that it’s my 40 ish daughter and not me, she’s hardly had time for her joints to ‘wear out’.

craftyone Wed 28-Oct-20 12:47:10

RA affects the small joints simultaneously ie left and right, that is a pretty precise symptom. Hands, fingers toes

OA is wear and tear, cutting out sugars will help greatly to reduce inflammations, also resting the specific joints

Oopsadaisy4 Wed 28-Oct-20 12:51:13

Craftyone I think that DDs Dr. thinks her hands might be RA, they are incredibly painful and the fingers on both hands have started to cross under the other fingers, I just wish I could help, she has been through such a lot and now this. The only thing that helps are the strong painkillers and they just send her to sleep.

crazyH Wed 28-Oct-20 12:55:45

Sorry Oopsdaisy - didn't mean to sound blasé about it....of course, your daughter is far too young to be facing this diagnosis and I do feel for her. flowers

Marydoll Wed 28-Oct-20 12:59:45

RA unfortunately doesn't just affect joints, it brings so many other problems. It can also attack your internal organs.
In my case it was my heart, which came as a huge shock. For many of us unfortunately, the pain is never controlled.
The worst thing of all is the chronic fatigue, which is indescribable.
However, I have just started biological treatment, which although not helping much with the chronic pain, has after thirty years helped to allieviate the bone numbing exhaustion. There is light at the end of the tunnel at last.

Esspee Wed 28-Oct-20 13:10:24

Osteo arthritis is usually a result of oestrogen deficiency. Bit too late if you have it but please tell your daughters so that they have the choice of whether or not to protect themselves against it. It runs in families as does osteoporosis, both of which can be avoided by oestrogen replacement therapy.

Marydoll Wed 28-Oct-20 13:20:01

Osteoporosis is not always due to lack of oestrogen, long term use of steroids can be a major factor in developing it.
There is also lots of research going on into the link between RA and OA. I have both, as well as osteoporosis.

FannyCornforth Wed 28-Oct-20 13:23:03

Marydoll my husband is on biologics, he has been for over ten years.
Etanercept/ Embrel/ Benepali - same drug, different names.
He takes them along side methotrexate.
They have really made a difference.
He injects once a week.
Wishing you lots of luck with your treatment.

FannyCornforth Wed 28-Oct-20 13:24:00

Like you, Mary, he also has 0A.

craftyone Wed 28-Oct-20 13:26:34

pppsadaisy, ask her to go for a blood test, the sooner it is picked up the better. Yes RA drugs are powerful but they are very good at preventing further damage to joints. RA is a savage illness, people can feel so ill with it

CraftyGranny Wed 28-Oct-20 13:26:42

Oopsdaisy I have had RA since I was 40 (30 odd years ago) It affected multiple joints very badly initially. My right hand fingers drifted quite badly, but slowly (problematic for a secretary!) but about 8 years ago I had surgery to replace all the knuckles on that hand, brilliant results too.

When it first started I was referred to a consultant very quickly and have received all sorts of medication. I have been on my current regime for quite some time now and the RA is in remission, although I continue to take the medication. Fortunately it has not affected my organs.
Keep positive, it is treatable. Maybe your daughter could ask her GP for a referal to a Rheumatologist.
Take care.

Marydoll Wed 28-Oct-20 13:29:17

I'm on Tocilizumab injections, it's side effects have been brutal, but after four months of perseverance, my body is getting used to it. At nearly £1000 per month, I'm very fortunate and grateful to fulfil the criteria. Not everyone has access to it. I have high hopes for getting back some quality of life.

It should be available to all who have chronic RA.

boodymum67 Wed 28-Oct-20 13:36:16

My husband has had RA for around 23 years. It came on quite suddenly and he was seen by a specialist who told him RA is a disease of the blood.....where your autoimmune attacks itself.

He was on a tablet called methoxatrate, but it did him no good.

He often had painful steroid injections to reduce the inflammation. The pain affected many parts of his body.

He has been having a weekly ENBREL injection which is very successful. He has his blood tested every 3 months and has been told he is in remission.

But about 3 years ago, he was told he has OA as well! This does affect his joints, but not as badly as some.

My Brother in law also has RA, but is in much more pain. He has had a new knee, shoulder and a finger fused. He takes methoxatrate. His condition isn't a comfortable one.

craftyone Wed 28-Oct-20 13:36:34

methotrexate is the wonder drug, with side effects but one effect needs to be weighed against the other

I am so sorry for those with RA, my mother had it, badly, I know about the medical and mental problems that are involved

When we age the balance between bone destroying and bone building cells changes. Osteoclasts dissolve the bone and osteoblasts build up bone. Osteoblast influence can be greatly increased by impact exercise, even if just going downstairs like a heavy elephant, star jumps, weightlifting, reducing inflammation, increasing vegetables and protein and of course vitamin D with vitamin k