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Specialist Advice — 12 minutes

The difference between osteoarthritis and arthritis?

Dr Hélène Huot

Osteoarthritis and arthritis are two conditions that are very frequently confused, often because of the family of pathology to which they belong, i.e. rheumatism. However, they are indeed different and many of their symptoms are distinct.

Osteoarthritis is a so-called mechanical condition characterized by the gradual wearing down of cartilage in the joints. Aging is the most common risk factor for osteoarthritis.

Arthritis, on the other hand, is not caused by the normal wear and tear of bones. Instead, it is an inflammation that leads to the secretion of substances, gradually destroying the structure of the joint. It can be of infectious, genetic or metabolic origin.


Naturally, the symptoms common to both conditions are joint pain. In osteoarthritis, pain usually occurs when the joint is moving and decreases when it is at rest.

As for arthritis, using the joint generally reduces the intensity of the pain, since it is often worse at rest (during the night). Patients suffering from arthritis usually notice a warm feeling near the affected joint, as well as redness and swelling.


Aging is often the main cause of osteoarthritis. People in certain occupations are more at risk of osteoarthritis than others, since some of their joints are constantly being used, mainly the elbows and wrists. Obesity is also responsible for a number of osteoarthritis problems, particularly in the knees and hips.

Arthritis, on the other hand, is often caused by hereditary factors. In addition, people with an immune disorder or a chemical imbalance are often at greater risk.

Diagnosis and treatment

To make a diagnosis, the doctor will do a clinical assessment of your situation. They can then prescribe blood tests and X-rays, which will help determine if you suffer from osteoarthritis or arthritis. At this point, they can choose the treatment best suited to your situation.

Biron Service Centres and Imagix clinics are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and teams of professionals who can help your doctor find the cause of your pain and determine the right treatment.

We provide services that can help your doctor make a better-informed decision for your medication and dosage.

Take an appointment online or contact Biron Groupe Santé customer service at 1 833 590 -2714.

Dr Hélène Huot