Early Warning Signs of Osteoarthritis

May 20, 2016

Early Warning Signs of Osteoarthritis

Share Article

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and it affects nearly 27 million adults in the United States. The early warning signs of osteoarthritis are the same or similar to many of the osteoarthritis symptoms. The specific warning signs that you experience will vary from others because there are differences between individuals and their lives. Here are some early symptoms that may indicate you are suffering from osteoarthritis. 

5 Signs of Osteoarthritis

Joint pain

Joint pain is often one of the very first warning signs of osteoarthritis because it shows that there is something wrong with your knee or other joint. There are also a large number of people who show signs of osteoarthritis while not experiencing much or any pain. The pain could be aching, or it could also be tenderness.

Joint stiffness

Joint stiffness can also be relatively painful, but it is more than just pain. Stiffness is when you feel slow and sluggish because you cannot get your joints moving. While it is sometimes normal to feel slight amounts of stiffness when you get out of bed or after sitting at a desk all day, if it takes some time for it to clear out, osteoarthritis might be to blame. With osteoarthritis, the stiffness tends to feel better after you have been moving around for a little while and the joints have gotten a chance to warm up.


Swelling around one or more joints may be a warning sign of osteoarthritis. In normal joints, there is a small amount of fluid, but with arthritic joints, more fluid is produced by the soft tissue that makes the area swell and is uncomfortable.

Decreased range of motion

Associated with pain, stiffness, and swelling, loss of flexibility and a reduced range of motion in the joint is a warning sign of osteoarthritis. The process is typically very gradual, but if you notice that you cannot fully bend your finger or bend down and pick something off the floor as easily as you once could, osteoarthritis might be the cause.

Hear or feel abnormal sensations

Sensations such as cracking, clicking, grating, or crunching can often occur with osteoarthritis, so if you notice your joints doing this, it might be because of osteoarthritis. The sensations can either be felt, hear or both. Crepitus, meaning crackling, can indicate cartilage wear.

If you have been experiencing one or more of these warning signs for osteoarthritis, visit your doctor so you are able to determine if it is the problem or something else is. The next step is seeking treatment for your osteoarthritis.

Because osteoarthritis cannot be cured, treatment is essential to living a comfortable and enjoyable lifestyle for as long as you can. There are also some changes you can make to your diet to help battle osteoarthritis. You can work with your doctor to determine the best option for you and your specific situation. When caught early, the symptoms of osteoarthritis can be treated early, and you should be able to remain living a high quality of life.

Please enter a comment.
Please enter a name.
Please enter a valid email address in the form "name@domain.com".
Please check the box to the left of "I'm not a robot".

Frequently Asked Questions

How does osteoarthritis impact daily life?

Depending on the severity of the condition, osteoarthritis affects people differently. Most of the time the wearing of joints occurs very gradually over the course of many years. Mild cases are relatively able to be managed and constitute only a minor nuisance while living day-to-day.

More severe cases can limit mobility or the willingness to participate in daily activities due to the pain and discomfort resulting from osteoarthritis. This condition can make it hard to complete tasks involved with self-care, often discouraging people from working to treat osteoarthritis with healthy exercise.

See All Answers »

Is it possible for physical activity to help arthritis?

Absolutely! Exercise is one of the most effective non-drug treatments for arthritis. It can help to prevent or delay hip surgery and can help keep joints healthy. There are a number of arthritis-friendly exercises like walking, dancing, biking and more.

See All Answers »

Search By State

Find Senior Caring Options by State
Finding the perfect senior care community is only part of making your loved one’s senior living transition smooth. At SeniorCaring, we know that it is also equally important to be aware of what other community services and resources are available to your family’s senior. Choose your location and find local resources for your senior.