Rheumatoid arthritis vs psoriatic arthritis; how their symptoms differ | Health - Hindustan Times

Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis; how their symptoms differ

By, New Delhi
Jan 31, 2023 03:32 PM IST

Doctors talk about different kinds of arthritis and how their symptoms differ with each other.

Arthritis is a common chronic condition of the joints that causes a range of symptoms from pain, joints, stiffness and limited range of motion. There are over 100 kinds of conditions that come in the ambit of arthritis and their symptoms depend on the type of arthritis. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and psoriatic arthritis are the three different kinds of arthritis. While all of them cause inflammation, joint pain and affect a person's mobility, their symptoms are different from each other. (Also read: Arthritis to piles; lesser-known health benefits of cannabis or bhang revealed by Ayurveda expert)

Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis; how their symptoms di(Unsplash)
Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis; how their symptoms di(Unsplash)

Osteoarthritis is said to be the most common form of arthritis, while rheumatoid arthritis is regarded as the most painful of all. Osteoarthritis is mostly caused by wear and tear of the joints. Symptoms include joint pain and stiffness while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where body's immune system starts attacking healthy cells and this results in inflammation in the joints, pain, swelling, and stiffness. Psoriatic arthritis on the other hand affects people with psoriasis, a skin condition characterised by red, scaly patches. It can also cause psoriasis symptoms to worsen and can affect other parts of the body.

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"There are two types of arthritis inflammatory and non-inflammatory. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are inflammatory type of arthritis. Patients with inflammatory arthritis present with inflammation of the lining of the joints, and soft, squishy, often warm or red swelling over the joints. Patients with inflammatory arthritis may have significant morning stiffness, lasting more than 30-60 minutes. Osteoarthritis (OA) is also called degenerative joint disease or 'wear and tear' arthritis and is the most common form of non-inflammatory arthritis," says Dr Debashis Maikap, Assistant professor, KIMS, Bhubaneswar.

Dr Maikap also talks about different kinds of arthritis and how their symptoms differ.


When the cartilage between the joints degenerates and leads to rubbing of bones against each other, it is called osteoarthritis. It causes joint pain during activities like walking and climbing stairs. It is the one of the commonest forms of arthritis in which the joints undergo wear and tear. Since this condition is to do with degeneration of joints, it usually affects middle age or old aged people.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of autoimmune inflammatory arthritis, affecting about 1% of the population with more women affected than men. Obesity, smoking, female gender, family history of arthritis are important risk factors for development of RA. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the membranes that surround joints. It causes chronic inflammation which can results in joint pain, swelling and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause inflammation in internal organs, blood vessels, nerves and skin. Untreated patients have shorter life expectancy and higher risk for cardiovascular disease and lymphoma.

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of autoimmune inflammatory arthritis affecting 1-2% of the population. It can occur in patients with psoriasis or in some cases, without psoriasis but usually have a family history of psoriasis. The prevalence of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is the same in men and women; however, the latter experience a higher burden of disease and are affected more frequently by polyarthritis. Patients with a parent, child, or sibling with psoriasis are much more likely to develop psoriatic arthritis. It can present with different patterns of joint involvement, often with asymmetric joint involvement, sometimes associated with soft tissue swelling of finger or toes (look like sausages). It can also cause inflammatory back pain. Pits, horizontal lines, deformity, discoloration, onycholysis (lifting of the nail plate from the nail bed), brittle nails that crumble or splinter, and thickening of the nails can all be signs that nail psoriasis is present.


Dr Sarath Chandra Mouli, Clinical Director, Dept of Rheumatology, KIMS Hospital, Hyderabad talked about how different kinds of arthritis can be treated.

Osteoarthritis: The management of Osteoarthritis includes physiotherapy, weight loss, and cartilage forming drugs like diacerein and glucosamine and temporary pain killers. Severely damaged joints may need joint replacement by an experienced orthopedician.

Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis: Oral disease modifying drugs like Methotrexate, Sulfasalazine and Leflunomide will help. Biological dugs like Anti-TNF and Anti-IL6 therapies are expensive, but very good in controlling drug resistant cases. Newer drugs like Tofacitinib are also as good as biological drugs in controlling the disease. Steroid drugs like Prednisolone are temporarily used when the arthritis symptoms are more aggressive and pain killers like Aceclofenac on SOS (on demand) basis. Delay in treatment may lead to need for joint replacement surgery.

Regular physiotherapy, meditation and balanced diet will help. With early diagnosis, right treatment and lifestyle modifications, one can lead normal life.

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