Western Medicine separates between rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease where your own immune system starts attacking your joints (often symmetrically) and osteoarthritis, which can be described as a ‘wear and tear’ (degeneration) of your joint cartilage.
Both potentially cause pain, tender, stiff, and swollen joints, but in the case of RA, you may have additional, non-joint-related symptoms, as your immune system is involved.
In Chinese Medicine, wandering, dense pain is often categorized as ‘Wind-Damp’ that enters the body and sticks to areas where a deficiency exists. Basically, a pathogen finds a weak spot in the body to settle, in this case, a joint. Once an area is ‘blocked’ by these pathogens, Energy (Qi) and Blood cannot flow freely, get stagnant - pain & swelling follow. Pay attention if the pain gets better with application of Heat or with Cold packs, as this is a further pattern differentiation.