Do you become stiff and sore just from watching TV? Do your joints make odd, creaking noises? If you have these symptoms, you may have osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, often abbreviated OA, is the most common form of arthritis in the United States. This article will discuss osteoarthritis signs and symptoms. Read on to find out more.
8 Common Osteoarthritis Symptoms
- Joint Pain
- Joint Stiffness
- Grating or Clicking in a Joint
- Loss of Flexibility
- Joint Swelling and Inflammation
- Joint Tenderness and Oversensitivy
- Bone Spurs
- Joint Instability
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage that coats the inner surfaces of a joint begins to break down and wear away. This results in the bones of the joint rubbing against each other, causing osteoarthritis symptoms. Osteoarthritis can occur in just one joint or in multiple joints. Because osteoarthritis is a disease in which the joint gradually degenerates, it is also called degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. This article provides a good overview of what osteoarthritis is and how it is treated.
The most common cause of osteoarthritis symptoms is age, with over half of Americans age 65 and older showing evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint. Age is not the only consideration, however. Other factors that influence the development of osteoarthritis signs and symptoms include heredity, past joint damage from sports or work injuries, repetitive motion (wear and tear) injuries, obesity, and joint deformities such as knock knees. Gender is an additional factor that correlates with age. Prior to age 45, osteoarthritis is most common in men, usually due to injuries that occurred during sports or physically demanding careers. After age 45, osteoarthritis occurs more commonly in women. The reasons for this appear to be hormone-related and may have something to do with menopause and the higher rates of obesity among women. Studies have shown that osteoarthritis of both the knee and hip joint is higher for women than men.
Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
There are a variety of symptoms that may indicate you have osteoarthritis. Here are the eight most common signs that your pain and discomfort are caused by this degenerative joint disease:
1. Joint Pain
Joint pain is the most bothersome of all osteoarthritis symptoms. Severe pain can significantly limit participation in daily activities, and even mild joint pain can affect how a person does things from day to day. Since osteoarthritis involves the degeneration of cartilage in a joint, discomfort is usually limited to that joint. The amount of pain depends on how long osteoarthritis has been affecting the joint and how it is used.
Osteoarthritis symptoms of the hip and knee are usually the most noticeable and painful due to the weight-bearing properties of those joints. Hip or knee osteoarthritis can result in the limited ability to walk, stand, and move around during daily activities. Spinal osteoarthritis symptoms can also be very painful, disrupting sleep at night and creating problems when moving from lying to sitting or sitting to standing. Basic daily activities such as bathing and dressing can be disrupted by osteoarthritis pain in these joints.
Osteoarthritis symptoms in the hands can affect the ability to grip objects with force or to handle small objects. Opening jars and buttoning buttons can become a problem when osteoarthritis hand pain occurs. Joint pain may also become more severe after long periods of activity.
2. Joint Stiffness
Stiffness from osteoarthritis occurs when an affected joint has been at rest for some time. When the joint is finally moved, the range of motion is noticeably limited, and movement is difficult and painful. As the joint moves more, movement becomes easier and range increases. Most people with osteoarthritis notice this stiffness first thing in the morning when they get out of bed. The affected joints have not moved for about eight hours and they are very stiff, making bending, standing and walking difficult. Osteoarthritis stiffness also occurs after sitting or standing in the same position for long periods, such as spending long periods at one workstation, traveling long distances in a car, or holding a phone in one position to talk for long periods.
3. Grating or Clicking in a Joint
People with osteoarthritis may often feel a grating or grinding sensation in a joint. This is caused by bone rubbing on bone as the cartilage that lines the joint wears away. The pain and stiffness that results from the degeneration of the joint also cause supporting tendons and ligaments to stiffen as they work to support the joint. This stiffness causes the tendons and ligaments to snap or stick as they move through the joint, creating a clicking or cracking sound. The more grating and clicking felt in a joint, the more advanced the degeneration is in that location. According to the Arthritis Foundation, grating sensations are most often felt in affected knee joints.
4. Loss of Flexibility
As pain, stiffness, and signs of degeneration progress, joints affected by osteoarthritis eventually lose flexibility. Instead of loosening up and moving more after periods of inactivity, the joint will move less and activity will be limited. Long-term spinal osteoarthritis leads to an inability to bend to touch toes, put on shoes, or pick up items from the floor. Knee osteoarthritis can result in the inability to squat, climb steps, or sit in a chair without doing some interesting acrobatics to get down and up. Osteoarthritis in the neck can lead to a loss of flexibility that makes it difficult to turn the head while driving.
5. Joint Swelling and Inflammation
Swelling of joints affected by osteoarthritis is usually mild. However, sometimes fluid will build up around a joint as a result of the osteoarthritis process, leading to inflammation and visible swelling. This happens most often with the knee joint, resulting in a condition called knee effusion or fluid on the knee. Bursitis, a condition in which a fluid-filled sac that surrounds the structures of a joint becomes inflamed, can also cause increased swelling in a joint. While osteoarthritis does not directly cause bursitis, people with osteoarthritis are at increased risk of developing bursitis in an affected joint.
6. Joint Tenderness and Oversensitivity
If severe osteoarthritis pain exists in a joint for a long time, eventually the nerves around that joint become overly sensitive. This can lead to an extension of the pain beyond the structures that are directly affected by osteoarthritis, resulting in pain and tenderness when the area is touched. Oversensitivity can make it uncomfortable to wear certain types of clothing or sit on certain types of furniture. It can also be difficult to shake hands or give someone a hug.
7. Bone Spurs
Bone spurs are a result of the body’s natural attempt to repair a joint affected by osteoarthritis. As the cartilage in a joint wears away, the body creates bone to repair the affected area. This results in bone spurs. The symptoms of bone spurs are different depending on their location. Some spurs are in areas where they are not noticeable and a person may not even know it is there. Bone spurs in other locations are more problematic. A bone spur near a tendon may end up rubbing against that tendon, causing tendonitis. This can occur when bone spurs form due to osteoarthritis of the shoulder, resulting in rotator cuff problems. Bone spurs that form in the small joints of the fingers cause knobs at the ends of the fingers, making the fingers appear bumpy. A bone spur in the spine can lead to spinal stenosis, which may restrict the spinal cord. Spinal stenosis must often be corrected with surgery.
8. Joint Instability
As osteoarthritis flare-up symptoms occur again and again, the joints deteriorate to the point where they become unstable. Advanced osteoarthritis symptoms can cause the joint to buckle or give way under stress. Osteoarthritis in a knee can lead to the knee collapsing as the person climbs steps. Osteoarthritis shoulder symptoms can cause the arm giving way while reaching for a heavy item on a shelf. Osteoarthritis in the hands makes it easier to drop what you’re holding. For some people, osteoarthritis joint instability creates the need for assistive devices, such as walkers, wheelchairs, or home modifications.
What to do About Osteoarthritis?
If you have early symptoms of osteoarthritis, such as pain, stiffness and mild swelling, don’t delay treatment. Some people chalk these symptoms up to “getting old” and they feel nothing can be done. That is not true. Many treatment options now exist for osteoarthritis signs and symptoms, so a visit to your local general practitioner is in order. For mild symptoms, your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and may give you recommendations regarding diet, pain-relieving exercises, and lifestyle changes. If you have severe osteoarthritis symptoms, your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist — a doctor who treats patients with joint diseases. A rheumatologist may complete more thorough testing and prescribe more specialized treatment for your osteoarthritis symptoms.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful as well. Arthritis Wonder is a topical medication developed by Dr. David Kooyman, a microbiology professor at Brigham Young University. What is Dr. Kooyman’s interest in osteoarthritis? He has it himself! His work to develop Arthritis Wonder stemmed from his own suffering with the disease. He created the formula for Arthritis Wonder using Wogonin, a natural compound that targets the pain receptors in the joint, preventing pain signals from reaching the brain. Wogonin also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It is registered with the FDA and available on this website.
In addition to your doctor’s recommendations, you can take action to relieve your osteoarthritis symptoms yourself. There are many home remedies, activities, and lifestyle changes that you can explore to help relieve joint pain, stiffness, and other osteoarthritis signs and symptoms.
Osteoarthritis is a disease that will likely affect us or someone we love. That doesn’t mean we are all destined to live lives limited by pain and stiffness. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. If they occur, you will know to act before it is too late.