Symptoms of arthritis

There are many different types of arthritis which means a wide range of symptoms. But there are some symptoms which are common to many forms of this condition.

These include:

  • Stiffness in the joint/joints
  • Pain
  • Swelling/tenderness of the joint/s
  • Restricted movement of the joint/s
  • Skin is red and warm to the touch around the joint
  • Raised temperature
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Lumps develop near to the joint
  • General feeling of ‘off colour’ or ‘under the weather’

Another indicator of arthritis is finding it increasingly difficult to perform everyday tasks such as walking up a flight of stairs or bending down to pick up something.

These symptoms are discussed in a series of easy to understand sections which are as follows:

  • Is this arthritis or normal aches and pains?
  • Visit your GP at an early stage
  • Diagnosing arthritis

Is this arthritis or normal aches and pains?

It is important to distinguish between normal everyday aches and pains which we all get from time to time and arthritis. The occasional twinge or niggle is not something to be too concerned about but when it starts to affect your daily life then action needs to be taken.

Arthritis cannot be cured but there is treatment available to alleviate the symptoms and manage the condition on a daily basis. This means that you are able to go about your everyday routine.

Visit your GP at an early stage

With some forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to seek treatment sooner rather than later. The reason for this is that an early intervention can slow down the progression of this condition and the subsequent damage.

This applies to other forms of arthritis such as osteoarthritis, gout, lupus and reactive arthritis. There is no cure for these but a great deal can be done to minimise the spread of the disease if medical advice is sought at an early stage.

This also applies to any medical condition: most conditions will worsen if left so the sooner you obtain help the quicker they can be treated and without any long term effects.

But there are people who think that getting arthritis means that nothing can be done and so adopt a head in the sand approach to this condition. They ignore the symptoms, put it down to growing older and refuse to see their GP.

What is often the case is that someone only consults their GP when the symptoms have reached a stage that they are severely affecting their normal routine and are causing a great deal of pain and discomfort.

Whilst there may be several reasons for this reluctance to seek medical help, such as a lack of confidence in your GP or the feeling that you are wasting his/her time: it is nevertheless, important that you do so.

Diagnosing arthritis

Your GP will ask you a series of questions about your symptoms which include your medical history. He/she will also ask you about your family history which is particularly relevant in cases of arthritis.

The reason he/she will ask this is that family history is one of several causes of arthritis. There are people who appear to have inherited a gene for arthritis, for example osteoarthritis which has been passed down in their family.

If one or both of their parents have arthritis then there is a strong likelihood of them doing the same.

Your GP will ask about the frequency and duration of your symptoms; were they caused by an accident or injury? Have they developed over a period of time or without any warning?

He or she will examine you and refer you for tests, e.g. a blood test. This will help him/her to determine what type of arthritis you have.

The results of this will be used to devise a treatment plan which will include advice about medication, diet and exercise and physiotherapy for your joints.

Find out more about these in our treatment for arthritis section. Plus visit our living with arthritis section to learn more about ways of coping with this disease.

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