Rheumatoid arthritis differs from osteoarthritis in that rheumatoid arthritis is inflammation and damage to the joints due to the body's immune system attacking the capsules around the joints, while osteoarthritis is joint damage due to wear and tear over time, explains Mayo Clinic. Osteoarthritis also occurs because of injury.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes damage to joints and bones indirectly, Mayo Clinic says. The inflammation in the tough capsule tissues eventually starts to break down the cartilage and bone of the joints as a side effect. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, occurs because of direct damage to the cartilage, which disrupts the way it glides and leads to further wear through the cartilage and eventually to the bone. Common symptoms of arthritis in general include redness in the joints, joint swelling, stiffness, pain and decreased range of motion.
Treatments vary by the type of arthritis and include medications, physical therapy and surgery, states Mayo Clinic. Medications for arthritis include pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, anti-rheumatic drugs, biologics and corticosteroids. Surgical methods include joint replacement, in which damaged joints are removed and artificial joints are put in their place, and joint fusion, in which smaller joints are removed and the bones that lead to them are fused into a single bone.