Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

May 20, 2016

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

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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.

Stiffness

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.

Swelling

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.

Bone Spurs

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.

Pain

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.

Knees

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.

Hips

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.

Back

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!

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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.

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How is Rheumatoid Arthritis different from Osteoarthritis?

With Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), the body attacks the lining of joints as if it were trying to fight an injury or disease. Just like a cut on your finger can cause inflammation, RA leads to pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints that can last for hours at a time. Similar to other autoimmune diseases, people with RA will often feel tired or feverish. To treat this condition, doctors will often prescribe DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs), which can help with inflammation and tiredness.

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