Early Symptoms of 4 Types of Arthritis
An estimated one in five Americans has arthritis in at least one joint, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Arthritis develops when the shock-absorbing cartilage that normally cushions bone wears away from many years of use, or from injury. With no cushioning to protect it, the joint swells and becomes hard to move. Depending on which joints arthritis affects, the disease can make it difficult to walk, open jars, or do other everyday tasks.
There are more than 100 unique conditions classified as arthritis. Each of them can have different symptoms. In general, the first sign of arthritis is pain, which can feel like a dull ache or a burning sensation. Often the pain starts after you’ve used the joint a lot—for example, if you’ve been gardening or if you just walked up several flights of stairs. Some people feel soreness first thing in the morning. Others report that they feel achy whenever it rains.
As your joints become painful, they also swell up. The swelling occurs because your body releases fluid to take the place of the cartilage you’ve lost. This fluid is called synovium. It’s meant to act as a cushion. But when it’s released into the joint space, fluid causes the joint to swell up. The swelling can be painful, and it can restrict your movement.
Early Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that usually affects the larger, weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, and lower back. It can also affect the joints of the neck, fingers, and toes. At first only one joint may be affected. Arthritic joints feel sore and stiff, especially if you haven’t used them for a while. Often you’ll wake up sore in the morning, and it may take a few minutes for your joints to get moving again.
Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis also causes pain and swelling in the joints. Usually the small joints of the fingers and toes, or one larger joint—such as the knee or shoulder—is affected first. The disease is symmetrical, meaning that if your left index finger is swollen and painful, your right index finger will be as well. Other non-joint symptoms can include shortness of breath, fever, and chest pain.
Early Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune condition. That means instead of protecting the body from disease, the immune system turns against the body and attacks itself. Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can develop slowly over time. Or, they may start very quickly. In addition to painful, swollen joints, the condition can cause eye redness and pain, and changes to the nails.
Early Gout Symptoms
Gout is a unique form of arthritis because it often attacks the large joint of the big toe. It may also affect other joints, like the ankle or knee. When gout first starts, it may cause brief twinges of pain that come and go. This can go on for many years before full-blown gout starts. Then you may have bouts of severe pain and swelling in the joint.
Arthritis symptoms can come on so slowly that you may not even realize you have the condition. You may feel a little more sore or tired than normal. Once you start feeling pain and swelling in your joints, it’s important to see a doctor. Arthritis is a progressive disease. That means worsens over time. Getting treatment as soon as possible can prevent joints from becoming permanently damaged.
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- Psoriatic Arthritis. (n.d.). Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved September 6, 2013, from http://www.arthritis.org/conditions-treatments/disease-center/psoriatic-arthritis/
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