Perhaps the most obvious sign of arthritis is joint stiffness. Struggling to move your joints without encountering a sense of resistance is a clear sign that something is wrong – and it’s unlikely to go away by itself. No matter your age, arthritis is likely the cause of stiff, uncomfortable joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than just your joints – it can also cause you to bruise more easily. The autoimmune disease causes your blood platelet levels to drop, resulting in dark, long-lasting bruises caused by slight bumps. If you’re constantly coated in bruises, see your doctor to find the cause – it could be arthritis.
Hip pain is thought to usually affect the older generation – but it can be a sign of osteoarthritis no matter your age. This pain can be constant or it can come and go, with the pain receptors in your joint signalling to your brain that something is amiss.
Feeling pain or a burning sensation when you pee can be alarming. Sometimes, this pain can be an indication of reactive arthritis – your body’s reaction to a bacterial infection. As well as the discomfort, you may notice that you experience an increased need to urinate.
Arthritis doesn’t just cause physical pain, it can also wreak havoc on your energy levels. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause several joints to become constantly inflamed, resulting in your body working overtime to try and function. This increased strain on your body can lead to high levels of fatigue.
Many sufferers of arthritis report a grating sensation within their joints, essentially feeling their bones crunch. This phenomenon is known as crepitus, caused by the roughening of usually smooth surfaces within the joint. The cartilage is worn down with time, resulting in the uncomfortable grinding feeling.
When arthritis takes hold, the lining of your joints becomes inflamed – your body’s way of trying to protect the area from any further damage. For some people, rheumatoid nodules – an extremely firm swelling – can develop beneath the skin around the affected joints, feeling painful to the touch.
Reduced mobility in the morning
Osteoarthritis can result in uncomfortable morning stiffness, with your body feeling rigid for the first half hour or so after you arise from your slumber. Rheumatoid arthritis, however, can last much longer than this, leaving you feeling stiff for many hours into your day.
Pain at night
It’s not fully understood why arthritis flairs up at night, but scientists theorize that it has to do with the body’s fluctuating hormone levels. Ironically, tossing and turning all through the night can actually worsen the symptoms of arthritis – depriving your body of its much-needed recovery time.
If your joints are constantly popping and snapping, it’s worth seeking medical advice. Osteoarthritis is usually behind joint clicking, eroding the cartilage from the area, leaving your bones unprotected. Clicking joints are usually accompanied by other, more painful symptoms, such as swelling, inflammation, and tenderness.
Symmetrical joint pain
Symmetrical arthritis affects the same joints on opposite sides of the body, making it highly uncomfortable, and almost impossible to seek relief from. This type of arthritis typically affects the smaller joints of the body, such as your hands, feet, and ankles. Asymmetric arthritis, meanwhile, usually impacts the body’s larger joints.
It’s painful to touch your joints
When the tissue around your joints becomes inflamed, they may be painful to the touch. Even lightly applying pressure to the affected area can result in a sharp sensation of pain, while you may also feel as though the body part is full of fluid.
Osteoarthritis severely impacts the cartilage around your joints, ultimately restricting your mobility. The swollen, inflamed cartilage will, over time, begin to roughen and thin out, meaning that your tendons and ligaments have to work ten times harder, resulting in even simple movements requiring a great deal of effort.
You feel stiff after resting
If you find that your body is often stiff and rigid after a period of sitting down, you may be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Thankfully, this sensation can quickly dissipate once you get your body moving again, loosening up all of your stubbornly firm extremities.
Whole body pain
Some forms of arthritis affect the entire body, resulting in a constant throbbing that stretches from the tip of your toes all the way up to your neck. The most common cause of this sensation is rheumatoid arthritis, a systemic disease that can cause pain in your joints, muscles, and tissues.
Loss of appetite
Having a reduced appetite can be an early indicator of rheumatoid arthritis, with your body too focused on battling the condition to urge you to eat. This reduction of food intake is usually accompanied by other symptoms, including aching joints, tiredness, and/or fevers.
If you can hear your joints grating, it’s time to visit your doctor. The noise itself isn’t a cause of concern, but it is a key indicator of arthritis. The rough ends of the bone create the uncomfortable sensation as the joints move, creating the sound of bone-on-bone grinding.
A constant ache
Some forms of arthritis come and go, whereas others constantly plague your every waking moment. No amount of stretching, resting, or exercise seems to alleviate the pain, with the area in question constantly inflamed. If this is the case, it’s best to seek medical advice.
Pain in a joint that was previously injured
Post-traumatic arthritis affects areas of the body that have previously experienced trauma. It usually develops very swiftly after the injury takes place – as opposed to typical arthritis that can take years to form. If a recent injury has healed – but it’s still giving you pain, it’s best to visit your doctor.
One of the most common symptoms of hip osteoarthritis is pain in the groin area. The pain may feel as though it moves, shifting from your groin, your thigh, your buttocks, or your knee. The pain may develop slowly, though it can significantly worsen over time.
Stiffness in your hands and/or feet
Arthritis can significantly affect your smaller joints. In severe cases, you may find that you’re unable to fully bend your fingers or form a fist, accompanied by a dull, burning sensation. Like other joint issues, the severity of the stiffness is usually worsened in the mornings or after a period of inactivity.
Being unable to move your body like you were once able to is an alarming experience. Often, arthritis can be behind the reduced level of flexibility – with your joints too inflamed to twist effectively. Ironically, this can lead to the arthritis worsening, with the inactivity causing your joints to seize up.
Swelling in your fingers
Swollen fingers are a key symptom of arthritis. You may also notice little lumps and bumps around your knuckles – your body’s way of attempting to protect the delicate area. Early signs of arthritis can occur in just one or two fingers, often around the middle or the base of the bone.
Lower back pain
That frequent back pain you experience may not be from overdoing it during your workout – it can be a symptom of osteoarthritis of the spine. This affects the lower back area, with the cartilage between the joints slowly breaking down, resulting in pain and inflammation.
Changes to your fingernails
A little known side effect of psoriatic arthritis is how it affects your fingernails. As many as 80% of people who suffer from the condition noted a change – with the effects differing for each person. The changes can manifest as depressions in the nail plate, the nail bed thickening, or the nails becoming discolored.
Rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t just affect your joints – it can also affect your eye health. The very same autoantibodies that attack your joints and cause discomfort can also can target your eyes, resulting in a reduction in normal tear production, thus creating uncomfortable, dry eyes.
Often, joints that are affected by arthritis can appear to be physically red, with the crimson color signalling that something is amiss. The redness is a side effect of your body working overtime, pumping the joint with fluid until it swells, preventing any further damage to the area.
Often, inflamed joints that are caused by arthritis can feel warm to the touch. This sensation of heat is usually accompanied by other arthritis symptoms, such as pain, tenderness, reduced mobility, and swelling. If this is something that you’re experiencing, it’s recommended that you seek medical advice.
Snoring isn’t just something that can irritate your partner – it can also harbor signs of arthritis. Research has shown that rheumatoid arthritis is one of the causes of sleep apnea – with symptoms including loud snores, nighttime grunts and groans, and interruptions in breathing as you snooze.
Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to rheumatoid cachexia – otherwise known as muscle wasting. This can cause your body to reject any muscle mass, all while clinging onto fat, resulting in weakened limbs. Around two-thirds of people who suffer from RA experience a reduction in muscle mass.
An ache when it rains/humidity changes
Strangely, the weather can impact how arthritis plays out. Before (and during) cold, rainy days, many people report a flare-up in their arthritic pain. This is because the drop in air pressure may cause already inflamed tissue to expand, leading to increased levels of pain.
Neck pain isn’t just caused by sleeping awkwardly – it can also be a sign of impending arthritis. It’s usually caused by rough spots on the surface of the bone, creating various problems with your ligaments and discs. The pain can vary from mild to severe, sometimes constant, others sporadic.
Shortness of breath
Believe it or not, but rheumatoid arthritis can cause issues with the lungs. This is usually a sign of a progressed disease, with the lungs likely being scarred – resulting in a persistent cough and an inability to effectively catch your breath. This can result in serious health implications.
Aside from giving you red eyes, arthritis can also cause your eyes to become generally inflamed. The condition can lead to the development of scleritis – resulting in the inflammation thinning the eye wall. This can lead to generalized hotness, itchy eyes, and deep-rooted eye pain.
Repeated pain in the same joint
If the same joint is hurting day after day, it’s likely that arthritis is to blame. The pain can manifest as a severe, throbbing sensation, or just as a slight twinge that comes and goes throughout the day. As ever with pain, it’s always best to seek medical advice.
Rheumatoid arthritis can wreak havoc across your entire body – including your ears. The condition and, sometimes, the medication used to fight it can bring on tinnitus and all types of hearing loss, drastically affecting your quality of life. Smoking, noise exposure, and alcohol can all worsen the symptoms.
Experts have found a connection between gum disease and arthritis. They believe that bacteria from your mouth moves through damaged gum tissue, entering your bloodstream, and escapes into other parts of your body, causing general pain and discomfort. For a healthier body, ensure that you practice good dental hygiene.
Joint pain after activity
Your body may feel as though it’s in tip-top condition – until you begin your workout. While a few aches and pains are normal after an intense session, a severe sensation of pain and immobility are not. If your joints feel extremely tender post-exercise, speak to your doctor.
Although it’s likely due to the common cold or the flu – arthritis can also make you feel generally unwell. As your body fights the inflammation – working hard to try and protect your joints, it can leave you feeling tired, ill, and rundown. If the feeling doesn’t pass after ten days, seek medical advice.
A fever can be a symptom of reactive arthritis, or due to the drugs taken to combat the affliction. The fever can occur due to your body’s weakened defenses, making you more likely to pick up any infections. Anyone with a temperature higher than 100.4°F is advised to seek medical advice.