What’s the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis?

What’s the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term that is used to describe conditions that affect the various joints within our body (Arthritis Australia, 2017). In a report released in 2020, 1 in 7 Australians have some form of arthritis (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [AIHW], 2020). Therefore, it’s really important that we at Melbourne Hand Rehab arm you with the knowledge of what arthritis is, what are the different types and what you can do about it.

How do I know if I have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis?

There are multiple types of arthritis, (over a 100 types actually!), which affect different joints in different ways. The two most common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Some of our clients will come to Melbourne Hand Rehab unsure as to whether they have either of these arthritis, and that’s ok! Your therapist can help assist with your diagnosis by completing a physical examination, facilitating obtaining an Xray and blood tests and developing a treatment plan specific for you.


What’s the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis?



Osteoarthritis, otherwise known as ‘wear and tear’ disease, is when the cartilage between your joints breaks down. This is a gradual thing, it doesn’t happen straight away! So you might start to notice pain, stiffness and loss of movement at a particular joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. This means that your body’s immune system accidently attacks the lining of your joints. You may also notice pain, stiffness and loss of movement at more than one joint.

So right about now you might be thinking what’s the difference between the two types of arthritis? If you are, we have created the table below with three key differences to help.


What’s the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?


If you think you have either of these types of arthritis or even another type that is impacting on your hand function, come and see one of our Hand Therapist here at Melbourne Hand Rehab. There is a range of education and treatments that we can provide for you to understand your type of arthritis.

Furthermore, if you want more information, feel free to register for one of our FREE webinars on osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

By Jess Cauchi


Osteoarthritis, cool comfort, neoprene thumb support, thumb splint, arthritis

If you are experiencing hand or wrist pain, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to help you.



For more information, call us directly on 03 9458 5166