An elderly woman with rheumatoid arthritis informs the nurse that most of her friends have osteoarthritis and asks what the difference is between the two diseases. The nurse should understand that:

Rheumatoid arthritis causes joints to be inflamed, red, and swollen, while osteoarthritis does not generally cause swelling.

Explanation

• Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, causing pain with activity. Inflammation occurs, but the joint does not usually become swollen or red. It commonly affects the larger, weight-bearing joints and affects both genders equally.

• Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain and inflammation after periods of rest. It affects the small joints (like fingers) and is more common in women.

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