Having arthritis pain can be quite a nuisance. It hampers our day, making the most mundane takes difficult and subjecting us to unnecessary agony. But the pain associated with arthritis isn’t the only symptom people have to endure.
“In a lot of cases, people notice other things showing up before they ever have pain,” says Kevin Shea, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Luke’s Health System in Boise.
While arthritis may be seen as one entity, there are actually hundreds of different types, and each person diagnosed with the condition may present with an entirely different constellation of symptoms from the next, making each case unique.
Being aware of the symptoms arthritis sufferers may present allows you and your doctor to possibly slow down its progression. Early detection can allow for the use of anti-inflammatory medication or certain lifestyle changes to help preserve normal functioning. The following are a list of non-pain-related symptoms that are associated with arthritis to keep a look out for.
Stiffness: Arthritis often manifests as joint stiffness. “You try to bend or straighten the joint, and it feels tight or full,” Shea says. “It may also be hard to move to one side.” Stiffness tends to be worse early in the day, getting better as the day goes on.
Swelling: This symptom can be appreciated by comparing two joints side by side: for example, both wrists, or both knees. Assuming no other injuries or trauma has occurred, if one joint appears bigger or puffier than the other, it could indicate arthritis. Swelling often accompanies joint stiffness
Catching or grinding: This is the feeling that your joints or tendons are somehow tied up or “catching” on one another. “Sometimes a patient will notice the catching or grinding, and then the pain will come later,” Shea explains.
Fatigue: A prominent symptom of rheumatoid arthritis whereby the body’s immune system attacks the joints. It can lead to inflammation, both locally around the joint and systemically throughout the body. Systemic inflammation can leave individuals feeling symptoms of fatigue.
Fever or loss of appetite: Systemic inflammation not only reduces energy levels as previously mentioned but it can also result in “flare-ups,” or periodic increases in inflammation that can lead to a fever and loss of appetite.
Redness or skin rash: Red, scaly, or flaky skin issues are commonly seen with psoriatic arthritis. It also causes the typical symptoms seen in more subdued types of arthritis but comes with an irritating skin condition that may make joints look red or inflamed.
Poor range of motion: It goes without saying that pain tends to inhibit movement, and that is definitely the case with arthritis pain. Doing simple household chores or your favorite hobbies become exponentially more difficult due to uninvited pain—a hallmark of arthritis.
These are some early signs associated with arthritis. It is important to speak with you doctor if you feel like you have any of these early symptoms, as they will help guide you to make the best choice for treatment options and best overall recovery.