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Arthritis symptoms: How to identify the early signs?

Arthritis is a debilitating disease that can affect your bones and joints. Recognising the early signs of arthritis can help in early diagnosis and treatment.
Orthopedics
Published: 4 Nov 2023, 01:30 pm IST
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Arthritis is a group of conditions affecting the joints. It is a silent but impactful intruder in the lives of millions of people worldwide. The journey of arthritis often begins subtly, with early symptoms that may be easy to overlook or misinterpret. Yet, understanding how arthritis symptoms commence is pivotal to early diagnosis and effective management.

Recognising the early signs of arthritis is crucial for timely intervention. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, and prevent joint damage. If you suspect you may be experiencing arthritis symptoms, don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional.

Know the early arthritis symptoms to reduce the risk

1. The first whisper: Joint pain

One of the initial signs of arthritis is joint pain. It typically begins as a mild, intermittent discomfort. You may notice a twinge of pain when you move a specific joint, such as your knee or wrist. At this stage, it’s easy to attribute the pain to overexertion, stress, or even the weather. However, if the discomfort persists or recurs, it’s a signal worth paying attention to.

arthritis symptoms
Joint pain is the earliest symptom of arthritis. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Morning stiffness: A telling clue

Arthritis often announces its presence through morning stiffness. You may find that your joints feel rigid and immobile when you wake up. This stiffness typically lasts for more than 30 minutes and gradually improves as you move and warm up. Morning stiffness can affect various joints, but it is frequently observed in the fingers, hands, knees, and feet.

3. Swelling and warmth: The inflammatory response

Inflammation is a hallmark of many types of arthritis. As the condition progresses, you might notice swelling in the affected joints. The joint may feel warm to the touch and appear red and puffy. Swelling is a result of the body’s immune response, which triggers the release of chemicals that promote blood flow and inflammation in an attempt to heal the joint.

4. Reduced range of motion: A gradual consequence

Arthritis can slowly erode joint function over time. You may notice a gradual reduction in your joint’s range of motion, making it harder for you to perform everyday tasks. Simple actions like bending your knees, gripping objects, or turning your neck might become more challenging as arthritis progresses.

Also Read: Does knuckle cracking cause arthritis? Expert weighs in

5. Fatigue and weakness: The unseen struggles

Arthritis isn’t confined to joints. It can also affect your overall well-being. Chronic pain and inflammation can lead to fatigue and muscle weakness. You may find that you tire easily, and even routine activities may require more effort than before.

arthritis symptoms
Fatigue is one of the earliest symptoms of arthritis. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

6. Symptoms beyond the joints

In some cases, arthritis extends beyond joint discomfort. Depending on the type of arthritis, you may experience additional symptoms. For instance, individuals with rheumatoid arthritis may encounter fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Psoriatic arthritis can involve skin and nail changes, while gout can bring about sudden, excruciating pain attacks.

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Takeaway: Listen to the body

Arthritis symptoms often begin with subtle signals that can be mistaken for everyday aches and pains. However, paying attention to the nuances in how your body feels, such as joint pain, morning stiffness, and swelling, can make all the difference in early detection and management. Arthritis may be an unwelcome guest, but with awareness and timely action, you can take charge of your joint health and continue to lead a fulfilling life.

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About the Author

Dr Anup Khatri is the Senior Consultant of Orthopaedics at Global Hospital in Parel, Mumbai. He is a highly skilled orthopedic surgeon who has more than 20 years of experience. Dr Khatri has done his post-graduation in Orthopaedics from Government Medical College, Kolhapur. During this period he got well acquainted with clinical and technical aspects of orthopedics including fractures, spine, sports, and hand injuries. He further did a Fellowship in Arthroplasty and since then has given relief to many patients. ...Read More

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