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10 Common Symptoms of Arthritis


Arthritis is when your joints become inflamed and cause pain and stiffness, which becomes worse as you get older. Arthritis can be caused by normal wear and tear, various infections, and underlying diseases.

Arthritis is very common, with more than 3 million cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Also, different types of arthritis exist, such as rheumatoid, gout, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis. Arthritis is treated through medications, physical therapy, or surgery to reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Symptom 1: Pain

Do you feel pain? In your joints? Ankles? Back? Fingers? Hands? Neck? Wrists? Is the pain sharp? Dull? Burning? Occasional? Do you have pain when moving, sitting, or standing?

Arthritis describes the pain as “having a boa constrictor squeezing one of your joints.” Foods, exercises, and medications can help minimize the pain.

Symptom 2: Swelling

Are your joints swollen? Tender? Arthritis can cause such swelling and tenderness in your joints, which connect bones in your body.

According to Healthline, “Joints are surrounded and cushioned by soft tissues. Swelling occurs when fluid accumulates in these tissues. Pain, stiffness, or both may accompany joint swelling. You may also notice that the affected joint appears bigger than normal or irregularly shaped.”

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Symptom 3: Range of Motion

Do you have less range of motion with your joints? Specifically, how far can your joints move in certain directions?

With arthritis, it comes down to “use it, or lose it.” If you do not use your joints every day, then your range of motion decreases.

Symptom 4: Stiffness

Do your joints feel stiff? With arthritis, you become stiff because of the breakdown of your cartilage and bones. Try hot and cold therapy. Take a bath or shower, or use a heating pad and ice pack.

According to WebMD, “For many people with arthritis, morning is the most difficult part of the day. Waking up with stiff joints or joint pain is a common complaint. Although it may seem like the hardest time of day to get moving, doing a few stretches in the morning can give you a more limber start to your day.”

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Symptom 5: Fatigue

Are you excessively tired? The toll arthritis takes on your body can be the reason. The pain, the stiffness, and other symptoms can break down your body and wear you out. Arthritis can also cause sleep disruptions, such as waking up in pain.

According to WebMD, “When your rheumatoid arthritis leaves you feeling drained, reboot your energy levels with the right moves. Exercise, healthy food, and good sleep habits are secret weapons in your fight against fatigue.”

Symptom 6: Difficulty Walking

The pain, swelling, and stiffness with arthritis can make it difficult for you to walk. To combat this issue, get moving!

According to the Arthritis Foundation, “Walking for just 30 to 60 minutes every day can bring you all sorts of health benefits, from keeping your heart in good shape to making sure your bones stay strong.”

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Symptom 7: Muscle Weakness

Are your muscles weak? With arthritis, they will become weak – especially if you do not move and exercise regularly.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, one patient stated: “I am a 48-year-old woman with fibromyalgia. Among my most troublesome problems are fatigue and muscle weakness, which my doctor attributes to lack of physical activity. Are these common in fibromyalgia? Can anything help? The problem you describe is common in people with fibromyalgia, but feelings of fatigue and weakness can occur in anyone who is inactive – whatever the reason. While a program of aerobic activity – brisk walking, jogging, swimming – may boost your energy level, the only way to strengthen muscles is through strength training or ‘resistance’ exercise (in other words, weight lifting). And be prepared to work pretty hard at it.”

Symptom 8: Bump or Bony Outgrowths

Do you have bumps or bony outgrowths on your fingers and/or toes? These are known as Heberden's or Brouchard’s nodes.

According to Arthritis.org, “As the cartilage in the finger joints wears away, the ends of the bones rub together, stimulating the growth of these bony spurs.”

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Symptom 9: Physical Deformity

Arthritis can cause physical deformities to your joints, especially in your fingers and toes. Being able to grip, grasp, and pinch using your fingers and toes may decrease, leaving you unable to perform some activities and tasks. 

However, medications can help prevent, slow down, or stop damage leading to deformed joints.

Symptom 10: Redness

With arthritis, redness can occur on your skin in one or multiple joints. The redness does not involve pain or itchiness, but may be warm to the touch.

According to everyday Health, “The swelling or inflammation is more likely to be in the middle or large knuckles of your hands not the knuckles at the tips of your fingers next to your fingernails. It is often in the same joints on both hands (the swelling is symmetrical). The swelling does not feel "bony," but rather tender and slightly soft. With RA, you may also feel warmth and notice redness over the inflamed joint.”

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