Pain is not just an inevitable consequence of aging. If you are experiencing increased joint pain, you could be one of the 30 million people in the United States dealing with osteoarthritis.
But, how can you be sure it is osteoarthritis?
While the signs of arthritis can be similar, there are 10 common symptoms of osteoarthritis you can look out for.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of arthritis diagnosed. It is caused by the bones rubbing together at the joints due to loss of cartilage.
While age can contribute to this, there are other factors that can play a part:
- Previous injuries
- A family history of osteoarthritis
- Overuse of joints
The deterioration of cartilage occurs as weight continues to be applied to the joint.
While osteoarthritis is most common in people over 60, people can experience the discomfort of osteoarthritis at any age.
Because osteoarthritis can affect people at any age, it is important to watch for the symptoms of osteoarthritis so you can seek treatment as soon as possible.
What Are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
While osteoarthritis symptoms and the severity of these symptoms can vary from person-to-person, you can still watch out for the more common symptoms. The top ten symptoms of osteoarthritis to look out for are:
1. PAIN IN THE JOINTS
As the cartilage wears down and exposes bones to more friction, you may experience pain around these joints. Because pressure continues to be applied to these joints on a regular basis, the most common joints affected are the knee, hips, and hands.
This pain will be localized to the affected joint. The pain can range from mild to severe and can cause disruptions to everyday activities.
2. TENDERNESS, ESPECIALLY WITH PRESSURE APPLIED
Because the bones in the affected joints are unprotected, the joints can become tender to the touch.
While pain and tenderness are associated with each other, there is a slight difference. While some people may not experience general pain, they may find the affected joint is sensitive when pressure is applied.
If you bump your knee into something as you walk by and notice sensitivity, or you find it difficult to shake hands, these are examples of the tenderness associated with osteoarthritis.
With osteoarthritis, a joint can become stiff and difficult to use, especially after long periods of inactivity.
This stiffness will be most noticeable first thing in the morning. If you notice that you have difficulty getting the joint to function properly when you wake up or after a long time of rest during the day, this can be a sign of osteoarthritis.
4. LIMITED RANGE OF MOTION
A limited range of motion can be associated with the stiffness associated with inactivity. It can also be a stand-alone symptom of osteoarthritis.
As the cartilage continues to wear down in the joint, the flexibility of the affected joint will lessen. The cartilage separating the bones helps ease motion. Once it begins to deteriorate, the bones are left to turn or bend unaided, and this will decrease the joints ability to fully function.
You may find that you are unable to bend your knee or finger joints as much as you are used to. Or you may find that your ability to turn lessens as the loss of cartilage continues.
This loss in your range of motion can cause disruptions to everyday activities as the symptoms of osteoarthritis increase.
5. GRATING OR GRINDING IN THE JOINT
As the cartilage continues to deteriorate in the affected joint, the bones will rub together more often. This bone contact may cause a grinding or grating sound when you move the joint, a symptom known as crepitus.
Even if you don’t hear the grinding of the bones, you may be able to feel it. If you notice a strange sensation when moving the joint, such as the grating or grinding feeling, this is a sign of cartilage loss associated with osteoarthritis.
6. BONE SPURS
As the bones continue to rub against each other with osteoarthritis, causing friction, the edges of the bones are worn down, which can create projections along these edges. These projections are called bone spurs.
Often, the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis are results of these bone spurs.
7. ACCUMULATION OF FLUID IN THE JOINT
Your body will try to accommodate for the deterioration in your joints, sending more blood and other defense systems to the affected area to combat the injury.
This defense mechanism can lead to an accumulation of fluid in the joint. This is known as joint effusion.
The fluid collected in the area can cause other issues, such as swelling and redness. The joint effusion can also contribute to some of the other osteoarthritis symptoms, such as the pain and tenderness.
8. WEAKNESS IN NEARBY TENDONS AND MUSCLES
As you try to compensate for the pain, swelling, and loss of motion associated with osteoarthritis, you can cause the nearby tendons and muscles to become overused. As these nearby tissues become overstretched, this can lead to loss of elasticity, weakening them.
The weakening of the muscles and tendons in these areas can lead to further issues with pain and swelling, further diminishing use of the joint.
9. JOINT ENLARGEMENT
Joint enlargement is closely associated with joint effusion. The joint swells as fluid accumulation continues. Over time this swelling can become more noticeable or last for longer periods of time.
10. JOINT DEFORMITY
While not as common as the other symptoms of osteoarthritis, joint deformity can occur as the cartilage continues to deteriorate in the affected joint.
The cartilage loss can cause the joint to lose its shape. Stiffness and swelling can also play a part, making it difficult to hold the joint in a normal position. Joint deformity is usually an advanced symptom of osteoarthritis, especially if left untreated.
Treating the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are treatments available to treat the pain and swelling.
With any treatment, you want to make sure they have been researched thoroughly for effectiveness. At the Cohen Medical Center, multiple studies have been performed to guarantee the treatments used are effective.
Treatments can range from X-rays to diagnose osteoarthritis, to injections or infusions to treat pain.
If you are ready to get your symptoms of osteoarthritis under control, contact us today.