Generally, osteoarthritis develops in a gradual manner. The condition affects millions of individuals all over the world and has been linked to the aging process. Osteoarthritis typically affects the elderly group. It is vital that you are familiar with the initial signs and symptoms of the condition so that proper action can be taken.
What are the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis?
Pain in one or several joints
Approximately a third of individuals with evidence of osteoarthritis in an X-ray usually experience joint pain or other symptoms. This simply means that an X-ray can reveal if there is severe osteoarthritis in a particular joint, but the degree of pain one feels if there is any can vary.
Take note that pain that usually worsens due to physical activity and relieved by rest clearly indicates osteoarthritis. This is an evident warning sign of the disease.
Joint rigidity or stiffness
Rigidity or stiffness of the joint associated with osteoarthritis can occur after getting out of bed in the morning or after being seated for long periods of time. When it comes to osteoarthritis, the stiffness or rigidity after waking up can last up to 30 minutes. With the inflammatory forms of arthritis, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis, the rigidity usually lasts more than 45 minutes.
Swelling of one or more joints
A small amount of fluid is present in the normal joints. Once a joint is affected by arthritis, an unusually large amount of fluid accumulates which makes the affected joint appear swollen. The surplus fluid is generated by the soft tissues surrounding and lining the joints.
Crepitus in a particular joint simply indicates wearing out of the cartilage in the joint space. This is characterized by a cracking sound or similar to a rattle. If an individual has osteoarthritis, crepitus has a crunching sensation similar to bone rubbing against bone.
What should I do?
Once an individual starts to experience any or all of these warning indications, a doctor should be consulted. The doctor will perform a physical exam and request tests that will confirm or rule out a possible diagnosis.
In case an affected joint is reddened or warm, it might be an indication of rheumatoid arthritis or another form of inflammatory arthritis rather than osteoarthritis. The doctor will start prompt treatment after the diagnostic phase. It is vital not to ignore any of these warning signs.