Arthritis symptoms

Arthritis symptomsArthritis symptoms vary from person to person. There are also many different types of arthritis. However, there seems to be a few symptoms that many people with various forms of the condition commonly experience. These can include:

  • joint pain, tenderness and stiffness (particularly in the early morning)
  • inflammation in and around the joints
  • restricted movement of the joints
  • warm, red skin over your joint
  • weakness and muscle wasting
  • fatigue
  • a general feeling of being unwell
  • weight loss
  • mild fevers or night sweats
  • skin rashes.

Some of these are more common than others. Many people will only experience one or two, while some may experience most or all of them.

Speak to your GP

The symptoms listed above aren’t specific to arthritis, so you should see your GP to get an accurate diagnosis.  

It is important to see your GP if you experience any unusual pain, fatigue or joint swelling.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis symptoms are often mild, which means they can be easily dismissed. The main symptoms are stiff and painful joints, with pain usually worse at the end of the day and during exercise. Joints may appear swollen and inflamed after physical activity. 

A common symptom is morning stiffness, but in osteoarthritis, this usually lasts 30 minutes or less. It is also common to feel stiff after sitting down for a while.

You may have less range of movement in your joints than usual, and they may ‘creak’ or ‘crack’ when moved. 

Symptoms can vary from person to person, and range in severity. You may have times where your symptoms are particularly bad, and periods when you don’t experience any symptoms at all. 

In more advanced cases of osteoarthritis, there may be constant pain, with movement and everyday tasks becoming more difficult. Low mood and disturbed sleep are common.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you visit your GP. Don’t ignore or dismiss your symptoms, because early diagnosis will help to prevent unnecessary joint damage.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Many of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are listed above, and can be similar to those of osteoarthritis.

The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis tend to come and go. When your symptoms are bad, this is known as a ‘flare-up’. This is when pain, swelling and inflammation gets worse, and you may experience more stiffness in your joints than usual. You may also feel generally unwell and fatigued. Flare-ups can last for a couple of days, or they may last for a month or longer.

Flare-ups are difficult to predict, but the number you experience can be controlled with the right treatment.

However, there are times when symptoms completely disappear, known as ‘remission’. These periods can last months, or even years. During these times, it can be easy to dismiss the symptoms you experience during a flare-up.

Find out more

For more information on the different types of arthritis and associated conditions visit the following sections: