Arthritis vs. Rheumatism

Arthritis vs. Rheumatism | What is the Difference?

You arrived home tired after a stressful day at work; then, you felt this sharp pain in your knee joint while trying to sit on the couch. Despite not experiencing that kind of pain before, you wonder what could be wrong.

Then you search the internet for the possible cause of knee pain, and you get the result – arthritis. However, while doing further research, you came across another finding claiming it’s rheumatism.

At this stage, you become confused, thinking which one it could be between the two. Even though both terms are often used to describe joint diseases, there are differences between them. This article will give you easy ways to tell the difference between arthritis and rheumatism.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis occurs when the joints become inflamed, and this happens when the immune system releases chemicals that cause swelling in the joint. Arthritis is caused by injury, metabolic disorder, autoimmunity, and infections.

What Is Rheumatism?

Rheumatism refers to a wide range of health conditions ranging from inflammation of a joint to muscle problems like rheumatoid arthritis and other arthritis-related conditions. Most rheumatic diseases occur due to autoimmunity, a state whereby your immune system malfunctions and attacks your tissues.

Differentiating Arthritis from Rheumatism

It can be confusing differentiating arthritis from rheumatism since both conditions occur as a result of joint inflammation. One method of differentiating these two diseases is by observing their symptoms. A person can save lives and prevent severe complications if you can differentiate between arthritis from rheumatism.


Arthritis occurs when the immune system releases chemicals that cause swelling in the joint. A person who has arthritis may experience joint pain and joint stiffness. When the disease progresses, it can result in loss of cartilage, bone growth, poor joint function, difficulty in walking, and loss of handgrip strength.


Rheumatism occurs when your immune system malfunctions and attacks your tissues. In a person suffering from rheumatism, some symptoms you may notice include swollen joints, swollen fingers and toes, tendon, and ligament pain. The person may also experience rash, fatigue, and inflamed eyes as the disease progress.

Would It Be Possible to Just Verify What I Have?

Indicators of arthritis include several symptoms. The pain begins in the joints, including the ankle, fingers, hands, neck, and wrists.

In addition to pain, you may experience:

  • Joint stiffness, tenderness, or swelling
  • Decreased range of motion, difficulty in walking, or muscle weakness
  • An outgrowth of bone in the finger or toe
  • Fatigue or malaise

Rheumatism may exhibit symptoms like

skin redness, or stiff neck poor appetite (not feeling hungry) weight loss a high temperature, or fever sweating dry eyes chest pain

The sooner you seek medical care if you have arthritis symptoms, especially if you experience pain in your joints – the better.


Even though arthritis and rheumatism affect similar regions in the body, their difference can be observed in their symptoms, as inflamed eyes and ligament pains are associated with rheumatism. At the same time, it is not a symptom of arthritis. You should seek medical attention at once if you notice any of the symptoms listed above.