Arthritis Symptoms
Early Signs of Disease of The Joints

Arthritis Guide For Women

What Are The Signs of Arthritis?

Recognizing the Signs:
Pain, Inflammation, Weight Loss, Fever

Arthritis Symptoms


Early Signs of Arthritis

Symptoms Of:

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Lupus Arthritis
Psoriatic Arthritis
Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
Infectious Arthritis

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Guide to Arthritis

What are the Early Signs of Arthritis?

As there are almost 200 types of arthritis caused by nearly as many different conditions and symptoms can vary in appearance, location and severity. Many people only start to feel pain and joint stiffness gradually over time. Pain can come and go and when it does occur, this is known as a flare-up. The first symptoms of arthritis most commonly occur in the hands, shoulders, hips or knees. Joints can become tender, swollen and difficult to move. Signs of inflammation start to occur, causing a redness and heat in the affected area, such as the hands, feet or shoulder. Although arthritis may be more common in the hands or knees, it can occur in any part of the body including the toes ( known as gout). All these are indicators that something is not quite right. Sometimes arthritic pain and inflammation is also accompanied by:
• Fever.
• Weight loss.
• Difficulties breathing.
• Itchiness and rash.

If you experience any of these symptoms it is important to seek medical advice. Arthritis is not a diagnosis in itself, a specific form of arthritis will need to be diagnosed. See diagnosis of arthritis.

Symptoms of Different Types of Arthritis

Disease progression can vary from person to person, and also according to the type of arthritis diagnosed. Here is a list of the most common forms of arthritis and their symptoms:

Osteoarthritis Symptoms

For some people with osteoarthritis changes are so subtle, appearing gradually over time, that they are hardly notice them. For others, symptoms worsen considerably over fewer years. Signs include:

• Pain in affected joints, particularly after repetitive use. Pain can be sharp or burning. Constant pain, or pain which occurs during sleep may be an indication that arthritis is getting worse.
• Stiffness, you may feel creaky first thing in the morning.
• Creaking noises, cracking and crunching sounds. This may also occur however in ‘normal’ joints and does not necessarily indicate anything is wrong with the joint.
• Severe osteoarthritis causes joint movement to become restricted.
• After many years joints can become knobbly looking (known as Heberden's nodes and Bouchard's nodes), but despite their appearance, may eventually be pain free. See: arthritis of the hand.
• Bunions can develop from osteoarthritis of the big toe joint.
See: symptoms of osteoarthritis for more....

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms

Initial symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (which may be mistaken for other illnesses) include:

• Reduced appetite.
• Feeling generally unwell.
• Fatigue.
• Swollen glands.
• General feeling of weakness.

Gradually joint pain will start to appear, most probably in the morning and can last for up to an hour. Joints can become stiff, inflamed, red and tender when not used for periods of time. Pain can appear in any part of the body including hips (hip arthritis), knees (arthritis of the knee), neck, shoulders (arthritis of the shoulders) and wrists. Gradually overtime, the joints can lose their range of motion and may become deformed and permanently swollen.

Lupus Arthritis Symptoms

Symptoms of lupus which help doctors differentiate this condition from other rheumatic diseases include:

• A rash which appears across the bridge of the nose and cheeks in a butterfly-shape (also known as the Lupus Malar Rash).
• Red skin rash which can be flaky, scaly and itchy. Usually appears on the face, neck and chest (also known as discoid rash or discoid lupus erythematosus)
• Arthritic pain and joint stiffness. See also, why do I ache all over?
• Sensitivity to sunlight, also known as photosensitivity.
• Kidney issues.
• Hair loss (alopecia).
• Migraines.
High blood pressure (hypertension).
• Serositis: inflammation of tissues which line the heart, abdomen, lungs and internal organs.
• Immune system problems.

Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms

• Psoriasis, scaly patches of dried skin most commonly appearing on the knees, elbows, toes (image), scalp and backbone.
• Pain and swelling of the joints.
• Stiffness first thing in the morning or after prolonged periods of inactivity.
• Pain and swelling in particular of the fingers and toes, sometimes causing a sausage-like appearance.
• Inflammatory eye problems such as conjunctivitis or iritis (Uveitis), causing redness, blurred vision, pain and sensitivity to light.

Useful: Natural Treatment for Arthritis
Arthritis Remedies, food to avoid/eat and natural treatments. For more tips and questions see womens health questions.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica Symptoms

Symptoms of polymyalgia rheumatica usually develop quite rapidly. Muscle pain and stiffness of joints, particularly first thing in the morning or after periods of little movement. Usually the neck and shoulder muscles are most affected. Pain can range from moderate to severe and usually lasts about 30 to 60 minutes. It can lessen after some activity. Tenderness can also be experienced in the upper arms. About 40 percent of people with polymyalgia rheumatica also experience:

• Feeling generally tired and run down, which can make people feel like they are getting a flu.
• Slight fever (37-38 C/98.6F-100.4F).
• Loss of appetite leading to weight loss.
• Depression. See effects of depression.
• Blood tests typically reveal that those who suffer from polymyalgia rheumatica are invariably anemic.

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Symptoms

This chronic form of arthritis affects parts of the spine, including the bones, ligaments and muscles. Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and usually take years to develop fully. Signs usually appear first in the teenage years and may come and go, getting better or worse over time. The main signs are:

• Back stiffness and pain.
• Arthritic pain and joint swelling.
• Buttock pain.
• Painful inflammation where ligaments and tendons attach to bone (enthesitis).
• Fatigue.

To find out how your lifestyle can cause arthritis, see arthritis causes.

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ) Symptoms

TMJ, also known as myofacial pain dysfunction and Costen's syndrome, refers to problems with the jawbone joint. If the joints or muscles become stiff, this can lead to a range of problems including difficulties chewing. Other common symptoms include:

• Headaches, nearly 80 percent of TMJ sufferers complain of headaches with 45 percent reporting jaw pain. Exposure to wind or a cold draught can aggravate the condition.
• Ear Pain, nearly half of TMJ patients experience ear pain without sign of an ear infection.
• Bone Noises, TMJ patients often complain of a noise like cracking joints, crunching, grinding or popping sounds of the jaw, which is medically, termed crepitus.
• Dizziness, 40 percent of TMJ patients experience a vague sense of dizziness which may be related to the ear pain. A further 30 percent complain of muffled hearing and clogged ears.
• Tinnitus, or ringing in the ear. This can be resolved with successful treatment of TMJ.

Infectious Arthritis Symptoms

A non-chronic form of arthritis, caused by an infection which spreads to the joints through the blood vessels, maybe through an open wound or during surgery. Fortunately this condition is highly curable. It is also known as septic arthritis. Signs include:

• Arthritic joint pain. Depending on the infection, more than one joint may be affected. Most commonly the knee and hip are affected.
• Joint inflammation and swelling.
• Low grade fever.
• Chills which cause shaking may occur but are uncommon.
• Skin rash.
• General weakness.
• Headaches.

Gout Symptoms

Gout usually occurs after a number of years of build up of uric acid crystals in the joints. Symptoms include:

• Inflammation of a joint, usually the big toe, which is painful and warm to touch (also known as podagra - image).
• Pain that starts during the night and is so severe that even light pressure from a sheet is too much.
• Pain can last throughout the night, subsiding in the morning and easing over a few days.
• As the gout attack subsides the skin around the affected joint may feel itchy.
• Some people experience fever and occasionally other joints are affected like the hands, wrists, feet, fingers and elbows.

Related Questions
• Raynauds Phenomenon: Why do my hands turn blue?
What is the difference between fibromyalgia and arthritis?

  Related Articles on Arthritis

For more advice, see the following:

Arthritis Treatment - Medications, drugs and therapies.
Bone and Joint Problems - Symptom checker.
Arthritis Equipment - Making life easier around the house.

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