Arthritis: What are the symptoms and who is likely to contract it?
Joints ache when you first get up? Is your back bothering you more than usual? While you may not consider these
symptoms of arthritis, they just may be the tell-tale signs of a developing arthritic condition. While arthritis can attack any area, there seems to be certain parts of the body which are affected more often than others.
Think of arthritis and
immediately two of its major symptoms come to mind: pain and inflammation. But
these aren’t the only signs that your body is giving you that your joints
are beginning to deteriorate.
Pain is, indeed, the hallmark
symptoms of arthritis. Its
intensity varies among individuals. It
intensity also varies as the disease itself progresses.
The first signal of arthritis is a mile, minor ache.
This you’ll only feel, in fact, after you’ve used the specific
joint. As the arthritis
progresses, however, a more severe, sharp pain may strike the moment the
joint is used – even if it’s used just a little.
Eventually, the pain becomes
so pervasive that the joint hurts even when it’s not moving.
In the most severe of cases, osteoarthritis pain disrupts sleep –
which does little for the quality of life.
Stiffness is another classic
signal of arthritis. This is
especially noticeable in the morning. You
may also notice that a joint affected with arthritis may lock up on you
following extended periods of inactivity.
In the initial stages of arthritis, the stiffness is brief and is
easily “worked out” with a little bit of activity on your part.
As the disease worsens, though, there’s a loss in the range of
motion of the affected joint that will never return.
enlargement and deformity are three signals indicating the onset of
arthritis that are sometimes classified together by medical experts.
As the cartilage in the joints break down, the bones not only get
damaged, but your body’s regulatory mechanisms begin to fail.
This causes deformity in the joint.
Bone spurs may twist the natural contour of the joint.
These deformities make it increasingly difficult to move the bones.
These spurs are called
Heberden’s nodes when they disfigure the joints closest to the fingertips.
Bouchard’s nodes cause can enlargement of the middle joints of the
fingers. In addition to these,
though, your joints may also be subjected to bone cysts, gross bony
overgrowth as well as bowed legs and knocked knees.
Associated with deformity and
inflammation is fluid retention. For
some people, this is a very serious problem.
Some medical professionals have been known to extract as much as four
ounces of fluid from a single joint. That’s
a half cup!
Joint creaking most
frequently strikes the knees. This
symptom usually only occurs in the more advanced cases of this disease.
And the symptom is exactly what the name implies:
it’s a cracking sound and crushing feeling.
The causes of this particular symptom may vary. For some people, this
occurs because the bones of the joint are rubbing together during routine
use. In some cases it may occur during a medial examination.
Sometimes the creaking of the knees is so loud that it can actually be heard
across an entire room. While it
sound horrible, it’s almost always painless.
If there’s any pain, it’s usually nothing more serious than a
Arthritis strikes any joint.
But it’s not your imagination.
Arthritis does, indeed, seem to target a favorite joint.
Most frequently they are the fingers, the weight bearing joints like
the knees or hips and some joints in the feet.
Two other favorite targets of arthritis are the neck and lower back.
This disease appears in one
or more joints throughout your body, striking in a seemingly random way.
If you develop arthritis in your finger, for example, it doesn’t
mean that the next joint affected will be your neck.
In fact, it doesn’t even guarantee that another joint will be
It seems, however, that
arthritis seldom strikes in a symmetrical pattern. It seldom strikes both knees at the same time, or both hips.