10 Early Signs & Symptoms of Arthritis
You heard about it from your grandparents. At times, you hear your mom complain about joint pains. Does this mean you are a candidate of arthritis, too?
According to the CDC, an estimated 54.4 million Americans have doctor-diagnosed arthritis (1). It is more common among women than men and almost half of the diagnosed population has restricted physical activities (2).
In this article, you will learn:
- What arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis is
- The early signs and symptoms of this condition
- Quick tips to avoid arthritis from haunting you
First, Let’s Define Arthritis
Naturally, your body fights infection with the help of your immune system. When your immune system is healthy, it will be able to do its job properly.
Unfortunately, certain situations compromise the immune system. As a result, it mistakenly attacks cells lined in the joints, thereby causing inflammation, stiffness, swelling, and pain.
This is arthritis and it affects multiple joints. Aside from women, those with higher BMI are also more at risk of developing this condition (3).
How will you know if you have one? These signs and symptoms are your body’s way of saying that you need to get yourself checked as early as possible.
1. That Stiff Feeling, Especially In The Morning
One of the early signs and a classic symptom of arthritis is morning stiffness. This is where you feel stiff or numb after prolonged inactivity, which in this case, sleeping throughout the night.
The stiffness when you wake up usually lasts for a few minutes until your body could recover. Unfortunately, this kind of stiffness could get worse, especially without proper treatment. In fact, some could last for hours, thereby limiting your movement throughout the day.
- Morning stiffness is among the early symptoms of arthritis
- It gives stiff or numb feeling due to prolonged inactivity
2. Blame It On Fatigue
You think that you’re just too tired and you want to call it a day – at 3:00 pm. Believe it or not, fatigue or that feeling of extreme tiredness and lack of energy is among the first signs of this condition.
Here comes the worse part: fatigue comes first before the other symptoms manifest and you won’t even know it. Plus, it comes and goes, and could last for a day or even a week.
Why do you feel unusually tired?
Fatigue is your body’s reaction to the inflammation of the joints. As a result, there is a general feeling of sickness or depression. Your daily productivity both at home and in work is affected. Apparently, this could adversely affect your sex drive and relationship as well.
- Fatigue is extreme tiredness and lack of energy
- Fatigue could come before the onset of other signs of arthritis
- This symptom is a reaction to joint inflammation
3. Pain As Among The Signs Of Arthritis
Pain is normal when you hit yourself somewhere. But if you still pain even when at rest or every time you make movements, then you might have arthritis. In fact, pain is among the early signs of this condition.
Pain usually affects both sides of the body, distributed evenly. It usually starts on your fingers and wrists and eventually, the pain will affect your shoulders, knees, and ankles.
Why do you feel pain?
Arthritis causes inflammation. Inflammation makes the joint linings thicker. It also triggers the body to produce more joint fluids. This scenario could irritate your nerve endings; hence the pain.
- One of the symptoms of arthritis is pain
- Pain is due to inflammation that makes the linings of the joint thicker
- It starts with wrists and fingers and eventually affects knees, shoulders, and ankles
4. Early Symptoms Include Joint Swelling
Another early sign of arthritis is the swelling of the joints. This is due to inflammation, thereby causing the joints to look bigger than your normal.
Hands and feet are typically affected by subtle swelling during the early stages. Swelling becomes more apparent as arthritis progresses.
This symptom may last for a few days to a few weeks. It eventually increases in time especially when left untreated.
- Swelling, whether it is subtle or obvious, is among the early symptoms of arthritis
- Hands and feet will be affected first
- Swelling lasts for a few days or could go as far as weeks
5. Watch Out For Skin Discoloration
Having arthritis means your joints are inflamed. Apart from the pain and swelling, you will also notice a red appearance on your skin, usually in your hands and feet.
This is among the early signs of arthritis.
Joint redness happens because of inflammation. As a result, the blood vessels in your surrounding skin tend to widen. The wider the vessels, more blood will flow; hence the redness.
- Redness of the skin is among the early symptoms of arthritis
- The inflammation brought by this condition widens blood vessels in the skin
- Redness appears in hands and feet first
6. You Start To Lose Weight That You Forget About BMI
Losing weight is fine, especially if you are doing something to shed those pounds. After all, you want to stay on the recommended BMI, right?
But if your weight loss is unexplainable, then it could possibly due to arthritis. Your suspicion might be correct if weight loss is accompanied by the other symptoms mentioned.
Early signs of arthritis include fatigue and pain. Oftentimes, you lose your appetite, which could lead to weight loss.
- Unexplained weight loss is an early indicator of arthritis
- This situation must be accompanied with the other early signs of arthritis
- Appetite is often lost as a result of the other early signs of this type of inflammation
7. That Feeling Of Tenderness
Does your hand and feet feel tender? If you answered yes, then you are already experiencing one of the early signs of arthritis.
Here’s how to check joint tenderness:
- Press the joint in the middle and base of your fingers
- Press the joints at the base of your toes
- You tend to walk on your heels or you lift your toes up when walking
If you experience tenderness or soreness every time you press these areas, then you could have arthritis.
- Tenderness on hands and toes are early indicators of arthritis
- Press the joints in the base of your fingers and toes to check joint tenderness
8. Numbness And Tingling Are Signs of Arthritis
Here’s what happens when your body experiences inflammation: it creates pressure on the nerves, also known as nerve compression. This explains why you feel numbness or tingling sensation.
That’s not all. The joints in your hands and feet may create crackling or squeaking sound. This is because arthritis could damage the cartilage, which may grind against the joints every time you move.
This could lead to loss of sensation as well.
- Arthritis creates pressure on the nerves
- This pressure contributes to numbing or tingling sensation
- You could also experience cracks or squeaking sound
9. Movement Is An Issue
During the early stages of arthritis, you will notice that you have a hard time bending your wrist back and forth or walking is taking forever because your knees or ankle hurts.
Clearly, a decrease in your range of motion is among the early signs of arthritis. Oftentimes, this symptom is accompanied by pain, thereby restricting your movements further.
Later on, you’ll realize that bending or straightening your arms is difficult. This is because as arthritis progresses, the damage caused on the joints could also affect your tendons and ligaments. This will impair your movements more.
- Arthritis could impair your range of motion
- It starts with the difficulty in moving wrists and eventually affects your ligaments and tendons
10. These Signs And Symptoms Plus Fever
You might think that the fever is caused by the change of weather. In case you experienced any of these early signs and symptoms with fever, then it could be your body’s way of saying that you have arthritis.
Keep in mind that inflammation may cause you to feel feverish. This is typically coupled with fatigue, which could be the reason why you don’t notice the pain and swelling.
Nonetheless, it is important to pay attention. Fever is typically low-grade, usually not higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, it could be a sign of infection.
- Low-grade fever accompanied by any of the other early signs and symptoms is a sign of arthritis
- Inflammation causes you to feel feverish
Are you experiencing any of these early signs and symptoms? If yes, then make sure to seek medical help as soon as possible. This way, you could get proper diagnosis and treatment instead of possibly worsening your condition.
Arthritis, if left untreated, could lead to severe health complications such as joint deformities and carpal tunnel syndrome. You are also at a greater risk of developing stroke and heart attack.
More importantly, exercise. Regular exercise will also help a lot in reducing these symptoms. Spend a few minutes everyday to walk around or go up and down the stairs. This may not seem a lot but keeping yourself active could go a long way in reducing the symptoms – and the likelihood of developing this condition.