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knowing the difference between RA pain, and OA (osteoarthritis) pain

I have OA & RA, and am really suffering badly at the moment. I see my consultant on the 25th. My RA nurse once said that the 'feel' of an inflammation is different (RA joint feels soft/spongy, OA feels hard), but how can I differentiate pain? As I have both RA & OA in my hands for instance... my fingers are very painful, some swollen, some wont bend properly.

I have been on MXT for 3 years, was put onto leflunomide with it...then when that was not working they stopped the Leflun & put me on enbrel (still with mxt).. enbrel was not giving the result that consult wanted, so it was replaced by sulf....... which I could not tolerate, hence I am now back to just the mxt, and seeing the consult, who will be wanting to know about the pain I am in ... I am desperate that the right treatment will be found :/

8 Replies

For me is more a stabbing glass like pain where RA is hot spongy and stiffly tight. Oa is also my fingers joints where RA is the swellings where my fingers meet my hands . Same senario in wrists, shoulders and feet , hope that makes sense xx


Yes like allanah my RA pain is hot, inflamed, spongy and very tight and stiff. I also get constant intense throbbing and can sometimes actually feel it spreading from my fingers & wrist up my arms. Feels like a tight seizing up sort pf pain where you just can't move!

Really hoping you get the right treatment for you soon....know how you feel as I'm still in the 'trial & error' boat too!!!



now, this is where I am 'awkward'. I don't seem to have 'textbook' symptoms. For example, I am in great little finger has some swelling, which feels very spongy - however ... it is not hot ... my wrists have slight swelling, it kills me to move them, I know I don't have OA in them..again, they are not hot. Also RA should, according to the books be 'mirrored' well mine isn't.

I think not fitting 'into the norm' perhaps is why I cannot tell the difference sometimes.

Thank you for your replies :)


Oh goodness! I've got both RA & OA in my hands & I wouldn't like to say if the pain is different! I just know that they hurt!!!!

I've got OA in my knee & that is both swollen, hot & very painful!!


I have OA & RA in hands..OA both knees, had one replaced, but still get pain in it :/


Snap!!!! I've had one knee replaced & am waiting to have the other one done!


I call it "the elastic band syndrome". When I have flare up with R/A it feels as if someone has tied my joints up with elastic bands and everything is tight, hot and painful with the pins and needles. I have OA at the top of my spine (I think a lot of people my age have it ) I don't find the area is hot but still painful. I would imagine it very difficult to tell the pains apart. I hope you are sorted out soon honey...pain is so debilitating . Maryx


The pain must be different for everyone. The OA in my hands makes them swollen, stiff, and sore. When the RA is flaring in my feet and ankles, the pain is burning, and sharp like walking on broken glass. Also when I move, my joints feel like they are coming apart, like they are connected with rubber bands that are way too loose. Good luçk in your treatment. Pain is not fun no matter what causes it.


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