What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis? Discover Common Signs and Pain Indicators

Arthritis can affect people of all ages and can have a significant impact on their quality of life. It is essential to recognize the symptoms of arthritis so that you can manage them effectively and prevent further joint damage. What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis? There are different types of arthritis, and the symptoms may vary depending on the type and severity of the condition.

In this article, we will explore the most common symptoms of arthritis, including joint pain, stiffness, swelling, decreased range of motion, fatigue, weakness, fever, weight loss, morning stiffness, numbness, tingling, skin changes, eye symptoms, heart and lung symptoms, and other unusual symptoms. We will also answer frequently asked questions about arthritis symptoms and provide tips on how to manage them.

Joint Pain and Stiffness

what are the symptoms of arthritis

If you’re experiencing joint pain and stiffness, it may be a sign of arthritis. This symptom is characterized by discomfort or soreness in one or more joints, which can be aggravated by movement or pressure. Joint pain may be accompanied by swelling, redness, or warmth, making it difficult to use the affected joint.

Joint stiffness, on the other hand, refers to a sensation of reduced mobility or resistance when moving a joint. In arthritis, morning stiffness is a common occurrence, which can last for hours and make it challenging to start the day. Sitting or standing for prolonged periods may also worsen stiffness in the affected joint.

If you experience joint pain and stiffness, it’s essential to talk to your doctor to determine the underlying cause. Depending on the type and severity of arthritis, treatment options may include medications, physical therapy, or joint replacement surgery.

How to Manage Joint Pain and Stiffness

what are the symptoms of arthritis

While there is no cure for arthritis, there are steps you can take to manage joint pain and stiffness:

  • Apply heat or cold to the affected joint to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. A warm shower or bath can help ease stiffness in the morning.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Practice gentle exercises, such as stretching or yoga, to improve flexibility and reduce pain.
  • Use assistive devices, such as canes or braces, to support the affected joint and reduce pressure.

Talking to your doctor and following a personalized treatment plan can help you manage joint pain and stiffness, and maintain an active and fulfilling life.


In arthritis, swelling refers to the abnormal enlargement of a joint due to the accumulation of fluid or inflammation. Swelling can make the joint appear larger than usual and feel warm or tender to the touch. The severity of swelling can vary depending on the type of arthritis and the stage of the condition.

Inflammatory types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are more likely to cause swelling due to the body’s immune response to joint inflammation. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is less likely to cause swelling unless it is accompanied by an underlying condition.

Swelling can also cause deformities in the joint, which may affect its range of motion and overall function. In some cases, swelling may also lead to skin changes or the formation of nodules around the joint.

If you experience swelling in your joints, it is important to inform your doctor as it can be a sign of arthritis or other underlying conditions. Your doctor may recommend imaging tests or joint aspiration to evaluate the extent of the swelling and determine the appropriate treatment.

Decreased Range of Motion

Range of motion refers to the extent to which a joint can move in different directions. In arthritis, range of motion may be limited due to joint stiffness, pain, swelling, or damage to the joint tissue. This can make it difficult to perform normal activities of daily living such as bending, reaching, or grasping objects.

The degree of limited range of motion depends on the joint involved and the severity of the arthritis. For example, in hip arthritis, the range of motion may be limited in both flexion (bringing the knee towards the chest) and extension (straightening the leg out). In knee arthritis, the range of motion may be limited in both flexion and extension as well as rotation (turning the leg inwards and outwards). In hand arthritis, the range of motion may be limited in fingers, wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints.

It is important to address limited range of motion to prevent further damage to the joint and to maintain joint function. Physical therapy, stretching exercises, and range of motion exercises can help improve joint flexibility and mobility. Your doctor may also recommend other treatments such as medication, joint injections, or in severe cases, surgery.

Fatigue and Weakness

Arthritis can cause fatigue and weakness, which may affect your daily activities and overall well-being. This is especially common in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Fatigue can be caused by the body’s immune response to inflammation, which can lead to a feeling of tiredness and lack of energy. This can be especially challenging for people with arthritis, as it can be difficult to know when to rest and when to push through the fatigue.

Weakness can be caused by muscle atrophy or nerve damage, which can make it difficult to perform tasks that require strength or endurance. In some cases, weakness may affect your balance or coordination, making it more difficult to move safely and comfortably.

To manage fatigue and weakness, it’s important to listen to your body and take breaks when needed. You can also try gentle exercise, like stretching or walking, to improve your energy levels and strengthen your muscles. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep can also help improve your overall well-being.

Fever and Weight Loss

While less common than joint pain and stiffness, fever and weight loss can be symptoms of arthritis for some people. Fever can be a sign of inflammation or infection, which can be present in some types of arthritis. Weight loss can result from a decreased appetite or increased metabolic rate caused by the disease.

If you experience fever or weight loss along with other arthritis symptoms, it’s important to consult your doctor. These symptoms can indicate a more severe form of arthritis or another underlying condition.

Morning Stiffness

Morning stiffness is a common symptom of arthritis that can make it difficult to start your day. It is often described as a sensation of tightness or immobility in one or several joints, particularly in the hands, feet, knees, or spine. Morning stiffness can last for several hours and is usually worse after a period of inactivity, such as sleeping or sitting for a prolonged time.

If you experience morning stiffness, there are several strategies that can help you manage it:

  • Start with gentle stretching or range-of-motion exercises to loosen up your joints.
  • Take a warm shower or bath to relax your muscles and decrease inflammation.
  • Apply a warm compress or heating pad to the affected joint to increase blood flow and reduce stiffness.
  • Avoid sitting or standing in the same position for a long time, as this can increase stiffness and discomfort.

If your morning stiffness is severe or does not improve with these strategies, consult your doctor. They may recommend medication or physical therapy to help manage your symptoms.

Numbness and Tingling

While less common than other symptoms, numbness and tingling may occur in some people with arthritis. Numbness is the loss of sensation in a specific part of the body, while tingling is a prickly or tingling sensation.

In arthritis, numbness and tingling may be caused by nerve compression or damage, or by circulation problems. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist can cause numbness and tingling in the fingers, while cervical spinal stenosis in the neck can affect the arms and hands.

If you experience numbness or tingling, it is important to discuss these symptoms with your doctor. They may recommend imaging tests or nerve conduction studies to evaluate the extent of nerve damage, and suggest treatments such as physical therapy, medications, or surgery to relieve pressure on the nerves.

Skin Changes

Arthritis can cause skin changes that may be related to inflammation or immune system dysfunction. These changes may appear as rashes, nodules, or ulcers on the skin.

Some types of arthritis, such as psoriatic arthritis, can cause skin changes that resemble psoriasis, a skin condition characterized by red, scaly patches. These changes may be accompanied by joint pain and stiffness.

Other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can cause nodules to form under the skin. These nodules may be small or large and may be located near joints or tendons.

Arthritis-related skin ulcers may develop on the legs or feet, especially in people with vasculitis, a condition that causes inflammation of the blood vessels. These ulcers may be painful and may take a long time to heal.

Eye Symptoms

Arthritis can affect the eyes in some cases, causing symptoms such as redness, dryness, or blurred vision. These symptoms may be related to inflammation or medication side effects. It’s important to inform your eye doctor if you have arthritis, as they can monitor your eye health and provide treatments if necessary.

Heart and Lung Symptoms

what are the symptoms of arthritis

Arthritis can affect not only the joints, but also other organs in the body, including the heart and lungs. Some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This may be due to chronic inflammation in the body, which can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of plaque buildup.

Heart symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, and fatigue. If you have arthritis and experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Your doctor may perform tests to evaluate your heart function and recommend lifestyle changes or medication to manage your symptoms.

In addition to affecting the heart, some types of arthritis can also affect the lungs. For example, rheumatoid arthritis can lead to inflammation in the lining of the lungs, known as pleurisy. This can cause chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath. Other types of arthritis, such as ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, can affect the spine and ribcage, leading to chest pain and difficulty breathing.

If you have arthritis and experience any respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath, it is important to see your doctor. Your doctor may perform lung function tests and recommend treatment to manage your symptoms, such as inhalers or medications to reduce inflammation.

Other Symptoms

what are the symptoms of arthritis

Arthritis can cause a range of symptoms beyond joint pain and stiffness. Some people may experience:

  • Headaches: These can be caused by inflammation or tension in the neck and shoulders.
  • Dizziness: This can be caused by medication side effects or inner ear problems.
  • Mood changes: Some people with arthritis may experience depression, anxiety, or irritability due to the impact of the disease on their daily life.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor. In some cases, they may be related to the arthritis itself, while in others they may require further evaluation or treatment.


Q: Can arthritis cause fever?

A: Yes, some types of arthritis can cause fever as a result of inflammation. This is more common in rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. If you have a fever along with joint pain, stiffness, and fatigue, you should see your doctor to determine the cause.

Q: What is the difference between joint pain and muscle pain?

A: Joint pain is usually characterized by a dull ache or burning sensation that is felt in the joint itself. It may be accompanied by stiffness and swelling. Muscle pain, on the other hand, is usually characterized by a sharp or shooting pain that is felt in the muscles surrounding the joint. It may be accompanied by weakness or tenderness. Your doctor can help you determine the source of your pain.

Q: Can arthritis cause weight gain?

A: Arthritis itself does not cause weight gain, but certain medications used to treat arthritis may cause weight gain as a side effect. Additionally, decreased mobility and activity due to arthritis may contribute to weight gain. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight to reduce stress on your joints and improve overall health.

Q: Can arthritis affect only one joint?

A: Yes, arthritis can affect one joint or multiple joints. Osteoarthritis, for example, often affects only one joint, while rheumatoid arthritis typically affects multiple joints. If you are experiencing joint pain, stiffness, or swelling in a single joint, it’s important to see your doctor for an evaluation.

Q: Are there any natural remedies for arthritis?

A: While there is no cure for arthritis, there are several natural remedies that may help manage symptoms, such as exercise, weight management, and dietary changes. Additionally, some supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric, and ginger, may have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce joint pain and stiffness. However, it’s important to discuss any natural remedies with your doctor to ensure they are safe and effective for you.

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Jillian Hunt is a strong and inspiring individual who has been living with arthritis for over a decade. Despite the challenges she faces, she’s determined to find ways to manage her condition and improve her quality of life. She’s also an advocate for others who face similar challenges, sharing her insights on various forums.

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Arthritis Treatment Lab is a blog dedicated to providing information and resources on various treatment options for arthritis. From traditional approaches such as medication and physical therapy, to alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal remedies, we strive to educate and empower individuals who are living with this condition. Our articles cover the latest research findings, practical tips for managing symptoms, and personal stories from people who have successfully overcome arthritis. Whether you are newly diagnosed or a long-time sufferer, Arthritis Treatment Lab is here to support you on your journey towards better health.