What Are The
Early Symptoms of Arthritis?

Are you watching out for the early symptoms of arthritis? Maybe you have a family history of osteoarthritis symptoms? Maybe you have had joint pain and are concerned with developing arthritis? Learn what to look for so you can take control of your joint pain.

diagnosis of arthritis

Early Arthritis Symptoms

One of the difficulties of determining if you might be developing arthritis relates to the sheer number of different arthritic conditions. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Symptoms associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis will be different than Ankylosing Spondylitis. Knowing information about the different types of arthritis will help in identifying symptoms specific to that arthritic condition.

In addition, arthritis symptoms can vary from person to person. The pattern of these symptoms can make identifying the root cause more challenging.

Typical Arthritis Symptoms

Despite these variables, there are some generalities we can make regarding the majority of arthritic conditions. The most common early symptoms of arthritis include:

• Joint pain

• Joint stiffness or limited range of motion

• Swelling of the joint

• Difficulty with performing normal every day activity

• Redness and warmth around the joint

• General fatigue

Symptoms associated with arthritic conditions that are systemic in nature will affect multiple joints and have more global symptoms. In contrast, osteoarthritis symptoms will generally be noticed in one joint. In addition, osteoarthritis may result in morning stiffness that lasts less than an hour where as the stiffness associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis will last a good part of the day.

Paying attention to the symptoms felt, the pattern of the pain, and how specific or global the symptoms are will assist in determine the potential condition involved.

What Symptoms Are Not Associated with Arthritis?

Some of the patients I have worked with are concerned that if they feel cracking or snapping of their joints that it may be an early symptom of arthritis. This clicking or cracking is called crepitus and has not been associated with the development of arthritis.

Cracking and clicking of joints is fairly normal, unless it is associated with pain. If the clicking or cracking of the joint creates pain, than an evaluation of the joint should be performed to determine the cause of the pain.

Similarly, if one cracks their knuckles they are no more at risk of developing arthritis than anyone else. Cracking of a joint is often caused by the release of joint pressure or a tendon moving over a bony prominence. Neither of these actions creates joint damage and thus will not lead to the development of arthritis.

What Next?

If you think you are experiencing the early symptoms of arthritis, don’t panic. Gather information regarding the type and pattern of your symptoms as well as a complete medical history. Seek advice from a qualified medication professional that will be able to diagnose the specific cause of your symptoms as well as map out a treatment plan.

Medical advances have resulted in effective arthritis treatments. Early diagnosis and treatment will improve your ability to control pain and remain active.


Rehabil Nurs. 2009 Mar-Apr;34(2):64-73, 84.Readiness to manage arthritis: a pilot study using a stages-of-change measure for arthritis rehabilitation.Arthur AB, Kopec JA, Klinkhoff AV, Adam PM, Carr SL, Prince JM, Dumont KE, Nigg CR.

Duke Med Health News. 2007 Jul;13(7):7-8.Exercise, even if you're older, is key to managing arthritis symptoms. Australian study shows that women over 70 can reduce the incidence of pain by being active.

J Rheumatol. 2002 Sep;29(9):1981-8.Prevalence of arthritis: analysis of data from the US Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 1996-99.Mili F, Helmick CG, Zack MM.

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