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Osteoarthritis - Symptoms

Symptoms of osteoarthritis can range from mild to severe.

They may include:

  • Pain. Your joints may ache, or the pain may feel burning or sharp. For some people, the pain may come and go. Constant pain or pain while you sleep may be a sign that your arthritis is getting worse.
  • Stiffness. When you have arthritis, getting up in the morning can be hard. Your joints may feel stiff and creaky for a short time, until you get moving. You may also get stiff from sitting.
  • Muscle weakness. The muscles around the joint may get weaker. This happens a lot with arthritis in the knee.
  • Swelling.Osteoarthritis does not usually cause much swelling but may cause a little, especially in the knees.
  • Deformed joints. Joints can start to look like they are the wrong shape, especially as arthritis gets worse.
  • Reduced range of motion and loss of use of the joint. As your arthritis gets worse, you may not be able to fully bend, flex, or extend your joints. Or you may not be able to use them at all.
  • Cracking and creaking. Your joints may make crunching, creaking sounds. This creaking may also occur in a normal joint. But in most cases, it doesn't hurt and doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with the joint.
  • Sleep problems. The pain and stiffness of arthritis can disrupt sleep. And sleep problems may make it harder to cope with pain.

Arthritis of the spine can also narrow the openings that make space for the spinal cord and for the nerves that branch off the spinal cord (spinal nerves). This is called spinal stenosis. It can lead to pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves. This pressure can cause pain, weakness, or numbness.

Some medical conditions can cause symptoms similar to osteoarthritis, such as joint injuries and other forms of arthritis.

One Man's Story:

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Steve, 55

"I thought the stiffness and pain in my hip was just from the stress I was putting on my muscles. But when I changed my exercise routine or stopped working out, the pain was still there ... The pain would come and go. It wasn't a sharp pain, but a kind of ache that would keep me awake a lot. I could never stay in one position for very long."—Steve

Read more about Steve and how he learned to cope with arthritis.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: October 17, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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