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Hi,my first time on here. I'm very confused can anyone help? I think i have RA but after many tests I've been told I have OA what's the diff

When I have a flare up I feel really ill,I'm in a great deal of pain,feel sick,have a temperature & just can't get up,I'm a very strong person but even if the house was on fire I really don't think I could move or care. I've been given hydroxychloroquine to take but don't really want to take it if I don't have RA? Can anyone out there make any sence of this??

7 Replies

Hi nice to hear fron you. I am not sure I can help but am happy to listen.

I have been trying to get diagnosis for years. was told I have lupus rash by specialist whi forgot to document it. Doc sent me to rhuemy he told me ra and fibro and oestio. then he left new rhuemy says fibro, white finger, symsivitis and oesto no mention of ra. you have my sympathy trying to understand . hang in there the world is a great place to be. we will get sorted.



Hi Caza, there's many forms of Arthritis. Osteo arthritis is natural wear and tear on the joints as we get older, causing pain but NOT the deformities RA causes.

RA is a form of inflammatory arthritis which causes damage to joints and can affect other vital organs within the body.

As you've described your pain and fatigue I'd be inclined to think it was a form of inflammatory arthritis, is there another doctor you could see for a second opinion.

There are other forms of inflammatory arthritis which cause severe pain/disability. Think I'd be asking for a second opinion if I were you.

Also, why do you not want to take the Hydoxy it's a Disease Modifying Drug prescribed for RA and other inflammatory forms of arthritis, if it helps what difference does it make.

Hope this helps

Beth xx


Hi, it doesn't really sound like OA to me. One of the differences between OA and RA is that RA joints get hot and swollen, and tend to be on both sides at once. And RA flares feel like you have the flu.

I think OA tends to produce stiffness in different joints to RA, and often on only one side. But there may be people around who will contradict me soon.

The trouble is, I believe there are all sorts of types of arthritis. I only have RA and OA. And I take Hydroxychloroquine for RA and it really helps.

If you look on the Arthritis Research Council website:

I think they have detailed descriptions of all types.

Diagnosing RA in the early stages can be quite tricky, and I am afraid may take a while. Meanwhile stick around, as there is loads of help and support on this forum.


Hi - I have recently started on Hydroxychoraquine as well as Methotrexate and it is too early to tell if it is going to work but I can say that it is one of the less powerful DMARDs but you would not have been put on it if they didn't feel sure you had some form of inflammatory arthritis.

If you feel generally achy and feverish that does sound like RA rather than OA. Many on here have both because most people will develop OA at some stage as they get older. But the really fundamental difference is that RA is an autoimmune disease whereas OA isn't - and this means that it is systemic and makes most sufferers feel tired and unwell on top of joint pain. It also affects smaller joints more - and often symetrically - and swollen knuckles will usually be an indicator whereas the top finger joints usually mean OA - and one knee as opposed to both - with heat either within or showing up as hot, pink and swollen for example.

So they do present differently but a rheumatologist will know how to distinguish between them easily - however a GP may not. You don't say whether you saw a consultant or whether it is your GP who has diagnosed OA?

Finally - you can have negative blood results and some Osteoarthritis but sill have RA/ inflammatory arthritis - it's called sero-negative RA and 25-30% of RA sufferers have this type. Good luck getting it worked out and tell us how you get on. Tilda x


ive had RA for just over 4 yrs now i found out from a blood test but had an inkling i had because it runs in my family from my mother and a younger brother and we all started with it in arms and finger joints,ive been told i have fibromyalger and OA now,excuse the spelling i,m not as good with my spelling now its been a long time since i had to use my noggin,i was on hydrocloxaquinine but got took off when i started on embrel injections,my life is simply taking tablets all the time now,but i will say since being on embrel its reduced my inflamation lots and the redness........


It seems really unlikely that you would be on hydrochloroquine if you have osteoarthritis. It's only used if you have an inflammatory arthritis.

But you may have OA as well as the inflammatory arthritis, especially if you have had it for some time without a diagnosis as the joint damage resulting can have the same effect as OA.

There are so many different types of inflammatory arthritis and even if you have diagnosis of RA, the progression and effects are different for each person - I can't believe that it's just "one disease". But as the treatment is the same - and by trial and error - perhaps it doesn't matter what type of inflammatory arthritis we have.


Dear Caza

This is a really hard query to respond to on a forum, as it would be useful to ask you some questions to get a better idea of your situation. The fact that you feel generally unwell sounds less typical of OA, and the medication (hydroxychloroquine) would be given for RA and not for OA. I think it would be worth you giving our helpline a call. We are open Mon-Fri 9.30-4.30 on 0800 298 7650.

Kind regards


(NRAS Helpline & Information Coordinator)


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