Joint pain is a common symptom of osteoarthritis. It typically starts slowly and gradually becomes worse and even debilitating as time goes on. Your pain may come and go throughout the day, depending on your schedule and lifestyle.
You may find that your affected joint tends to hurt first thing in the morning or after sitting at your desk for long periods. It may also flare up again at the end of the day or after prolonged or strenuous exercise. Certain types of activity may also consistently aggravate joints: maybe your fingers hurt after writing your grocery list, or your back aches after sweeping the floor.
Joints most often affected include the hands, knees, hips, and lower back.
Here’s an interesting fact: if you have osteoarthritis in your hip, you may feel the pain in other places, such as the groin, knee, buttocks, or the inside of your thigh.
Joint stiffness or reduced range of motion is often a part of osteoarthritis. This decreased flexibility generally accompanies pain at the same times of day, like early in the morning or after exercising. You may find that the joint becomes more flexible when you move it around gently.
Depending on the site of the osteoarthritis, mild swelling can be a common symptom. Areas prone to swelling include fingers, knees, ankles, and feet.
Tenderness is discomfort you feel when pressing on a joint affected by osteoarthritis. This is different from the pain you may feel when moving the affected joint. Tenderness may be mild, moderate, or severe—even clothing touching the tender joint may be too painful to bear.
5. Difficulty with Everyday Tasks
Are you finding that everyday tasks that used to be no problem are now almost impossible? Osteoarthritis could be the culprit. If your fingers are affected, it can be quite difficult to grasp and hold things like a coffee cup, or to push the buttons on a remote control. If your hips, knees, ankles, or feet are affected, simply walking or climbing stairs can become a challenge.
6. Noisy Joints
Creaking, cracking, popping, or grating sounds sometimes accompany the movement of joints affected by osteoarthritis. You may even feel a crunching or scraping feeling, especially after resting for a while. This is caused by the cartilage in your joints breaking down, leaving the bones to rub against each other or click together.
7. Bony Nodes
Most common on the fingers affected by osteoarthritis, bony formations known as “nodes” can lead to stiff, painful, gnarled hands and fingers. You may notice your fingers becoming larger or twisted, or that you are no longer able to do fine finger work like needlepoint or tying fishing lures. If they press on a nerve, these nodes can cause numbness and tingling.
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms of osteoarthritis, especially swollen, stiff, or painful joints that don’t seem to get better over time, you should make an appointment with your doctor to discuss whether you might have osteoarthritis.