Osteoarthritis is a deterioration of cartilage and overgrowth of bone often due to "wear and tear". Rheumatoid arthritis is the inflammation of a joint's connective tissues, such as the synovial membranes, which leads to the destruction of the articular cartilage.
Review Date 10/1/2017
Updated by: Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.