Symptoms of Arthritis

Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.

Severe arthritis, particularly if it affects your hands or arms, can make it difficult for you to do daily tasks. Arthritis of weight-bearing joints can keep you from walking comfortably or sitting up straight. In some cases, joints may become twisted and deformed.

Just as the causes of different types of arthritis can vary widely, the pattern and location of symptoms of arthritis can also vary depending on the type.

Some cautionary signs of arthritis include pain, swelling, stiffness and difficulty moving a joint.

Arthritis symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly, and as arthritis is most often a chronic disease, symptoms may come and go, or persist over time.

There are four key signs of arthritis that should prompt a discussion with a health care provider. These include:

  • Pain. Pain from arthritis can be constant, or it may come and go. Pain might be isolated to one place or felt in many parts of the body
  • Swelling. Some types of arthritis cause the skin over the affected joint to become red and swollen, and to feel warm to the touch
  • Stiffness. Stiffness is a typical arthritis symptom, with some forms of arthritis causing increased stiffness upon waking up in the morning, after sitting at a desk, or after sitting in a car for a long time, and others resulting in stiffness after exercise or characterized by persistent stiffness
  • Difficulty moving a joint. Moving a joint or getting up from a chair should not be hard or painful and can indicate arthritis or other joint problem