5 Common Signs of Osteoarthritis

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5 Common Signs of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear disease that typically accompanies age or injury. Caused by the deterioration of cartilage covering bone ends, some common signs point to the condition. Read on to learn more.

There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but by far the most common form is osteoarthritis. Joint deterioration begins as smooth cartilage covering bone surfaces begins to break down. That creates bony growths and deterioration of other soft tissue in affected joints, causing stiffness, pain, and reduced range of motion. 

Often associated with aging, osteoarthritis ranges from an aching inconvenience to a disabling and painful condition. Orthopedic surgeon H. Scott Ellsworth, MD, specializes in arthritis treatment, particularly when it affects the joints of the shoulders and elbows. 

Osteoarthritis can’t be cured, but treatments and lifestyle changes can improve your quality of life. Here are five common signs of osteoarthritis. Early recognition and treatment may help you minimize the impact of this wear-and-tear disease.

1. Slow progression

Typically, osteoarthritis builds slowly over months or even years. Other forms of arthritis tend to develop more quickly. Discomfort and pain may be first noticed when an affected joint experiences exertion or increased load. Other symptoms begin and then become more pronounced over time. 

2. Morning stiffness

A brief period of stiffness in affected joints first thing in the morning or after a period of inactivity is common with osteoarthritis. Other forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, tend to have prolonged stretches of stiffness. 

3. Swelling and inflammation

As the disease progresses, you may notice that affected joints show signs of swelling or inflammation. There might be some sensation of warmth, but joints with osteoarthritis don’t usually develop the hot and red inflammation that forms with other conditions and types of arthritis. 

4. Grinding and grating

Joint noise or sensations may accompany osteoarthritis symptoms. These sounds and feelings occur during joint motion, and there may also be locking sensations, as though the joint sticks during its range of motion. Sounds typically resemble clicks, cracks, and pops. 

5. Relief with rest

It’s normal for osteoarthritis pain to increase with the use of the joint or over the course of the day. But your symptoms often subside when you rest or overnight, with the exception of morning stiffness. Other types of arthritis can cause pain regardless of joint use. Gout attacks, for example, often start overnight. 

Osteoarthritis treatment

One of the best self-care techniques for osteoarthritis is gentle activity using the affected joint. Your body is made for motion, and the best conditions for healing often include mobilizing the joint. Complete rest can increase stiffness and inflammation. 

Dr. Ellsworth often recommends three activities to improve mobility, reduce pain, and slow joint deterioration caused by osteoarthritis. These three exercise types include: 

  • Range of motion and flexibility exercises to reduce stiffness and preserve joint movement abilities
  • Strength building of support muscles to reduce the loads directly on arthritic joints
  • Aerobic activities to stimulate the cardiovascular system and maximize the body’s healing functions

These activities combine well with other treatments to maintain range of motion and reduce the need for pain medication or other interventions. 

When arthritis affects you, contact Dr. Ellsworth’s nearest office to schedule a consultation by phone or online. Osteoarthritis doesn’t need to dominate your life, so book your visit today.