Early Signs of Osteoarthritis

Older man suffering from knee pain

Pain and stiffness in the joints or muscles can cause a real disruption to a person’s day. If you’re experiencing pain in your hands or knees, doing tasks like cooking or doing chores around the house may be hard to do. In fact, this pain or stiffness, especially if it is ongoing, could be the onset of osteoarthritis—a common form of arthritis that occurs when cartilage around your joints wears down over time.i Even if you’re experiencing mild symptoms of pain in your hands or knees, these symptoms could be early signs of osteoarthritis. We’ll discuss in greater detail what osteoarthritis is and the early symptoms and signs of osteoarthritis to help you prevent further damage to your bones and joints.

What is Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can affect each person differently, but generally causes cartilage break down in the joints.ii People with osteoarthritis can experience joint pain in a variety of areas of the body, including knees, hips, neck, and hands (particularly the ends of the fingers or at the base of the thumbs).iii Many health professionals refer to osteoarthritis as the “wear and tear” disease, as the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints slowly deteriorates.iv If you’ve been experiencing pain in your joints in any of these areas, then you may be affected by osteoarthritis.

Common Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

You may only be experiencing mild joint pain, but it may be important to gain a better understanding of the various symptoms and early signs of osteoarthritis. Studies of patients with early osteoarthritis show that the patients experienced infrequent but sharp pain caused by high-impact sports or activities, usually involving a lot of running and/or person-to-person contact.v Other signs of osteoarthritis can include sleep disturbances, such as falling or staying asleep, due to the pain they may be experiencing in their joints.vi As arthritis progresses you may experience more consistent pain and stiffness. Your symptoms may start to impair your ability to carry out daily activities. If you’ve noticed that you’re unable to move a joint through its full range of motion, tenderness around the joint when you apply pressure, or stiffness in the morning, you may be experiencing common symptoms of osteoarthritis.vii

It’s important that if you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms described here that you reach out to a doctor as soon as possible to better understand your physical pain. Don’t let the pain go untreated, as the symptoms could only worsen over time, which could have detrimental effects on your body and quality of life. For additional resources on knee pain and arthritis, check out our articles on how to manage arthritis, managing pain at work and more.


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