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Symptoms of osteoarthritis include the following:

  • Pain in the joint
    • Most commonly affected joints are those of the knees, hips, hands, or spine.
    • Pain usually increases when the joint is used or stressed.
    • Pain is usually decreased by resting the joint.
    • May be described as a dull, achy pain or a sharper, stabbing sensation.
  • Stiffness
    • Stiffness can make everyday activities difficult, such as leaning down to pick something up, putting on shoes, opening a jar, walking, or climbing stairs.
    • Stiffness occurs first thing in the morning is common, usually lasting under 30 minutes after you resume activity.
    • Stiffness after any period of inactivity is common (such as after sitting still for a couple of hours in a movie theater or on an airplane).
    • Stiffness decreases your range of motion, so that you can’t bend or unbend a joint as far as you normally could.
  • You may have a feeling of instability in the joint. For example, your knee may feel as if it is going to buckle underneath you.
  • You may feel or hear a grating or creaking sound when you bend or unbend your joint.
  • Your joint may develop an abnormal appearance:
    • It may appear inflamed, red, swollen.
    • It may appear misaligned or misshapen.

References:

Osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/conditions-treatments/disease-center/osteoarthritis . Accessed July 23, 2013.

Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Osteoarthritis/default.asp . Updated July 2010. Accessed July 23, 2013.

Sinusas, K. Osteoarthritis: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician . 2012;85(1):49-56.



Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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