What are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: Arthritis, Bone & Joint Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Arthritis symptoms may be confused with other joint problems

Most cases of arthritis occur in the weight-bearing joints, such as knees, hips and lower back, or in smaller joints that don't get as much use as you age.

Arthritis symptoms vary depending on the severity of the disease and which joints are affected. However, the most common arthritis symptoms are:

  • Joint stiffness, pain, and immobility, especially first thing in the morning or after resting
  • Heat, pain, or swelling in the joints
  • Mild to severe redness of the joints

By age 40, 90 percent of the population has definite signs of osteoarthritis ("wear and tear" arthritis) that can be detected by x-ray, although most people haven’t yet experienced these characteristic arthritis symptoms.

First Rule Out These Conditions

Although osteoarthritis is by far the most common cause of joint pain, it is by no means the only cause. Other possibilities to rule out include:

  • Bursitis—inflammation of the joint capsule from overuse or repetitive motion
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome—from repetitive motion, such as working on an assembly line or at a computer terminal for many hours per day; this is actually an inflammation of the nerves feeding the joint, rather than the joints themselves
  • An allergic reaction within the joints—these often occur in conjunction with a protein absorption problem in the gut

If you suspect one of the above may be at work, consult your health-care professional for further diagnosis.

More Dr. Williams Advice on Arthritis

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