Link between RA/inflammatory arthritis and OA

Starburst Member Posts: 2,546
Hello Helpline Team,

I've been pondering on this a while but not really got any closer to the shedding any light on the matter. I wondered if there was a link with RA (and other similar types of inflammatory arthritis) and OA. I say this because I've noticed several people say they have OA as a result of RA.

I had MRI scans a year ago and the radiologist wrote that I have secondary OA in my ankles (in addition to active RA inflammation in my feet); I previously had lots of inflammation in my ankles (confirmed by a radioactive isotope scan). I asked if the apparent 'OA' was as a result of RA and my rheumy said "probably". I googled and sure enough, it told me that the causes of secondary OA include RA. However, someone on the NRAS helpline says that OA damage and RA damage appears differently on x-ray and MRI. So, I'm still none the wiser.

Am I right in saying that RA/inflammatory arthritis can cause erosions that look like RA but it can also cause osteoarthritis-like joint damage?

I hope this is clear, let me know if it is just a jumble of words.

Thank you,



  • helpline_team
    helpline_team Posts: 2,772
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Dear Sophie,

    Thank you for your post to Helplines. I think your question is a really good one. If I try to give you an answer, do be aware that I'm not medically qualified, so a rheumatology team member might give a better technical reply.

    First of all inflammatory arthritis conditions do produce a different kind of joint inflammation which can lead, as you said, to joint erosions. However where people have had that inflammatory process going on, it can age the affected areas. So as the years go by it may be rather less surprising that those joints might show their age a bit sooner than elsewhere in the body.

    So keeping those joints mobile and strengthening their supporting muscles, eating carefully to keep weight down - these self management techniques will really be important.

    If you'd like a chat about this, you'd be very welcome to give us a ring. We do appreciate that getting a second kind of arthritis diagnosed, may be something that may pack an emotional punch. We are here if you'd like to talk.

    all the best

  • Starburst
    Starburst Member Posts: 2,546
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you that was really helpful. I may give the helpline a ring as I'm generally finding things difficult. :(

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