Understanding Arthritis -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

Symptoms of osteoarthritis may include joint pain and progressive stiffness that develops gradually.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include painful swelling, inflammation, and stiffness in the fingers, arms, legs, and wrists occurring in the same joints on both sides of the body, especially upon awakening.

Symptoms of infectious arthritis may include fever, chills, joint inflammation, tenderness, and sharp pain that is associated with an injury or infection elsewhere in your body.

In children, intermittent fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, and anemia, or blotchy rash on the arms and legs, may signal the onset of some types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Other forms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are associated with joint stiffness, a limp, or joint swelling.

Call Your Doctor About Arthritis If:

  • The pain and stiffness come on quickly for no apparent reason.
  • The pain is accompanied by fever.
  • The pain develops quickly and is associated with redness and extreme tenderness of the joint.
  • You notice pain and stiffness in your arms, legs, or back after sitting for short periods or after a night's sleep.
  • You have swollen or painful joints for more than two weeks.
  • You have limited motion in joints for more than two weeks.



WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on January 30, 2019



American College of Rheumatology. 

DePuy Orthopaedics. 

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. 

Arthritis Foundation. 

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University. 


National Institutes of Health. 

The Center for Current Research. 

National Internet Health. 

Alternative Medicine Foundation.

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