Can Osteoarthritis Turn Into Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Arthritis is divided into numerous of different types, some of them are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – even OA is the most common type. OA and RA is a joint disease, but they are different. An interesting question, can OA turn into RA?

Understanding OA in general

image_illustration228This kind of arthritis is also familiar called as degenerative joint problem. Generally, it is characterized by the loss of ‘range of motion’ and joint smoothness in the affected joint that typically with no major joint inflammation.

The cause is not confirmed yet. However, the classic theory says that it is associated with the wear and tear of the joint’s cartilage as the age. But not all elderlies have this kind of joint disease. This can be one of reasons why some experts theorize that it is not purely about the age.

For several decades ago, it is thought as a result the passive erosion and degeneration of the cartilage in the joint, similar to a tire that wears away and eventually very poor in function after extensive usage.

Again, the issue of how OA occurs is still debatable. But currently, it is thought as pathophysiologic process & mechanism involved in the cartilage’s metabolism rather than the mechanical wear & tear (inevitable condition) due to aging.


It also has nothing to do with low bone density. Therefore, drinking milk or calcium is not directly linked to the decreased risk of osteoarthritis.

The same goes for the issue of bone erosion. Though there may be a small risk of bone damage in the joint affected by OA, but actually this joint problem doesn’t have a direct contribution in causing bone erosion.

Joint pain and limited /decreased range of motion in the affected joint are common symptoms of OA. For more symptoms see in here!

Understanding RA in general

It is a joint problem that initially damages the soft membrane around the joint called synovium, which then cause poor function in the affected joint and generate common symptoms of arthritis such as joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.

Like in OA, the reason behind RA is also still unclear. But it is thought a result of immune system abnormality. Yap, it is an autoimmune disease. It is also categorized into inflammatory disease; even experts say it is the most common type of inflammatory condition in arthritis.

See also more information about the differences between OA and RA in here!

Both OA and RA still have no cure, but they are treatable. Some treatments are available to help cope with these kinds of arthritis. The exact cause is not known & not fully understood yet – this is the most challenging factor of why they cannot be cured entirely at present.

Can osteoarthritis turn into rheumatoid arthritis?

As written before, OA and RA are not same. However, the classic symptoms of OA such as stiffness and joint pain also can be found in people with RA. Therefore, examining the symptoms are not enough to make the diagnosis. Several tests are usually required.

It’s very rare for the same individual to have both conditions at the same time. But this doesn’t rule out the possibility that they can be found together in one individual. Does this mean that OA can turn into RA?

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