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Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Causes and Risk Factors

Symptoms of osteoarthritis
Symptoms of osteoarthritis typically begin after 40 and progress slowly. Osteoarthritis is characterized by pain or stiffness in the joints. Most types of arthritis cause pain in the joints. Pain is the way your body tells you that something is wrong. This type of arthritis, however, may start as soreness and pain may be moderate or intermittent enough to go unnoticed. Sometimes, discomfort can interfere with daily activities and make it difficult to walk, climb stairs or sleep. Joint pain can be characterized as:

  • joint pain that is less in the morning
  • joint pain that is worse in the evening after a day’s activity
  • joint soreness after periods of inactivity
  • joint soreness after periods of overuse
  • morning stiffness, which usually lasts no more than 30 minutes
  • stiffness after periods of rest that goes away quickly when activity resumes

In addition to pain in the joints, other symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • fever
  • itchy skin
  • rash
  • trouble breathing
  • weight loss

Symptoms of osteoarthritis by joint
Although osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, this type of arthritis most often affects the hands, knees, hips, and neck or lower back. Characteristics of the disease can depend on the specific joint(s) affected. These joints include:

Hands - Small, bony knobs may appear on the joints closest to the nails, on the base of the thumb joint or on the middle joints of the fingers. Fingers can become enlarged and gnarled, and may ache or be stiff and numb. Symptoms may include:

  • bony growth spurs at the joint at the end of the finger
  • bony growth spurs at the middle joint of the finger
  • difficulty with pinching movements
  • enlarged joints
  • pain of the finger joints
  • redness, tenderness and swelling in the affected joints

Hips - Symptoms of hip osteoarthritis include pain and stiffness of the joint itself or pain in the groin, inner thigh, buttocks, or even the knees. Osteoarthritis of the hip may limit moving and bending. Symptoms may also include:

  • limping when walking
  • pain in the groin, inner thigh and buttock
  • pain in the knee and side of thigh

Knees - The knees are most commonly affected by osteoarthritis and can lead to disability. Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis include stiffness, swelling, and pain, which make it hard to walk, climb, and get in and out of chairs and bathtubs. Knee osteoarthritis symptoms include:

  • grating or catching when moving the knee
  • pain that prevents you from exercising the leg
  • pain when moving the knee
  • pain when walking up and down stairs or getting up from a chair
  • weakened large thigh muscles

Spine - Osteoarthritis of the spine may manifest as stiffness and pain in the neck or lower back. In some cases, arthritis-related changes in the spine can cause pressure on the nerves where they exit the spinal column, resulting in weakness or numbness of the arms and legs. Symptoms of spinal osteoarthritis include:

  • breakdown of the spinal discs resulting in bony overgrowth
  • pressure on the nerves in the spinal cord (pinched nerves)
  • stiffness and pain in the neck and lower back
  • weakness or numbness in the arms or legs

On rare occasions, a person diagnosed with osteoarthritis will experience sudden signs of inflammatory or erosive arthritis such as redness, pain and swelling. More frequently, osteoarthritis can cause significant disability. Changes in the cartilage and bones of the joint can lead to pain, stiffness and use limitations.

Disability - Joint pain and stiffness may become severe enough to make daily tasks difficult to impossible. Some people are no longer able to work. When joint pain is this severe, doctors typically suggest joint replacement surgery, pain medications and/or assistive devices

Cartilage damage - Deterioration of cartilage can affect joint function and the ability to absorb shock. Bone spurs can develop and cause fragments of bone and cartilage to float in joint fluid causing irritation and pain. Cartilage breakdown can also affect the shape and makeup of the joint to cause a limp.

When to seek help
Only a doctor can confirm a diagnosis of arthritis or a related condition and inform you about how to treat the symptoms. It's important not to wait. If you experience swelling or stiffness in the joints that lasts for more than two weeks, make an appointment with your doctor. If you're already taking medication for osteoarthritis, call your doctor if you're experiencing side effects from arthritis medications such as:

  • abdominal discomfort
  • black or tarry stools
  • constipation
  • drowsiness
  • nausea

Pain and arthritis do not have to be part of growing older. You can work with your doctor decrease pain and stiffness and to prevent more serious damage to the joints. Remember, however, that it is crucial that you go to your doctor for a diagnosis before you begin treatment for osteoarthritis. Several other conditions also have symptoms similar to osteoarthritis, but are treated in different ways. Click here to learn more about tests for osteo arthritis in our Diagnosing Osteoarthritis section next.

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Tags: osteoarthritis symptoms, knee osteoarthritis, osteoarthritis, joint replacement surgery, arthritis medications, arthritis cause, arms and legs, medications, joint pain, medication, Arthritis, treatment, diagnosis, numbness, addition, after 40, symptoms, swelling, muscles, affects
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