Arthritis signs and symptoms vary with individuals. Here we will emphasize on some of the major signs and symptoms of arthritis and joint pain problem.
- Pain is the first and foremost sign and symptom of arthritis. All arthritis patients suffer from excruciating joint pain. Pain due to arthritis is also termed as arthralgia. The word comes from Greek 'artho' meaning joint and 'algos' meaning pain. The root cause of the pain lies in the destructive and degenerative process involved in arthritis. In other words the cartilage degeneration and bone friction causes acute pain, as in case of osteoarthritis. Also inflammation of tissues around joints leads to pain as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. Accumulation of fluids and uric acid crystals in between the joints also lead to pain.
Swelling is another sign and symptom of arthritis. At times it is also the primary symptom of arthritis. Little amount of fluid is always present in our joints under normal conditions. In a joint attacked by arthritis, the amount of fluid increases to abnormal proportions making the joint look swollen. This excess fluid is discharged by the soft tissues lining the joint. The tissues come under the effect of arthritis and produce large amount of fluids.
Stiffness or inflexibility at the joint is a symptom associated with swelling. Muscle tightness, inflammation of joint lining and calcification at the joints are triggering factors causing stiffness. In case of patients with much stiffness, the joints may become non-functional with time. Therefore stiffness if not checked may even lead to disability. The stiffness usually increases if the ailing joint is kept idle for a long time. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by severe stiffness early in the morning just after waking up. The stiffness comes down gradually as one gets in to activities.
Crepitus or a crunching or grating sound while moving an ailing joint is a common symptom of arthritis, noticeable in many. The word is derived from a Latin word meaning 'a rattle or crackling sound'. Crepitus is an indication of wearing out of cartilages in a joint. When crepitus occurs, along with the crunching sound, one feels some sensation in the affected joint. Crepitus is usually painless.
Deformity at joint is another arthritis symptom. It is common in case of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Bony outgrowths, swan neck deformity or bending of finger base, boutonniere deformity or flexion of PIP joint in the finger are common types of deformities caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Basal joint deformity or thumb carpometacarpal hyperextension deformity causes the thumb to stretch out and bend backward. This type is seen in patients with osteoarthritis.
Redness of skin around the affected joint is one sign and symptom. When some damage occurs at any part of the body, the immune system runs to destroy or eliminate the cause of damage. The same is true in case of joint damage as well. When the battle goes on, the result is redness in the external skin.
Arthritis patients also suffer from constipation or colitis.
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