Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) can also go by the names of degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis. Nearly 27 million Americans suffer from the condition. It affects the cartilage in the joints and is due to “wear and tear” or injuries throughout your life. Cartilage is typically smooth, allowing the joint to glide over it during movement, but with osteoarthritis, the cartilage begins to break down, which can eventually lead to bone-on-bone contact.
With OA, there are a number of symptoms that can vary depending on which joint is affected. The hips, knees, fingers, back, and feet are the most common places for osteoarthritis to appear, but you can get it in any joint in the body. Symptoms usually build up over time and do not appear overnight. There are also times when symptoms might appear more so than others: first thing in the morning, after resting, at the end of the day, or after extended periods of activity.
The joint affected by OA might feel stiff especially when it has not been used in a little while or it has been overused. The stiffness usually goes away after movement or the joint has gotten “warmed up,” but it may be more permanent and last for longer periods of time.
Limited range of motion
A limited range of motion in the joint is because of a loss in flexibility. Your joint may not move through the entire range of motion that it did before degenerative arthritis took over.
Osteoarthritis often results in mild swelling around the affected joint. Swelling can make the joint stiffer making it even more difficult to move it around.
Clicking, cracking, grinding
When the joint bends, there could be clicking or cracking sound or a grinding sound or feeling. Usually, there is pain associated with the sound or feeling, but not all the time.
OA worsens over time, and once the cartilage has worn down, and the bone begins to break down, bone spurs become a possibility. It is extra bits of bone that forms around the affected point. They feel like hard bumps and can cause large amounts of pain and inflammation.
Not only can pain be present because of stiffness, cracking, or bone spurs, the affected joint can also be tender to the touch.
Symptoms in Specific Body Parts
While the above are some of the OA symptoms, there are specific things that can occur in different parts of the body that can help understand that your symptoms are because of osteoarthritis.
Your knees bear a lot of your weight, so the knees are one of the most popular joints to experience OA. It can be difficult to walk and move around at times, and getting up from chairs and climbing stairs can be difficult.
Your hips also help to support your body weight, but also allow the movement of the lower body. When your hips are affected by osteoarthritis, movement can be very difficult. Aside from pain felt in the hip, pain can also be felt in the groin area, inner thigh, or knees. OA in the hips can make walking or bending the joint difficult.
Degenerative arthritis is especially common in the neck or lower back and can cause nerve problems because of increased pressure resulting in weakness or numbness.
Fingers, hands, toes, and feet
This degenerative joint disease can make the affected joints stiff, numb, or ache. Additional symptoms include Heberden’s or Bouchard's’ nodes.
Osteoarthritis affects approximately one-third of seniors over the age of 65, so if you think you may have OA because you experience one or more of the symptoms listed above, visit your doctor. Your doctor will be able to diagnose you and help determine the best treatment method for your osteoarthritis. You should live fulfilling life and OA does not need to prevent that – talk to you doctor to find the best way to treat your symptoms, so you can live an active and fulfilling life!