The symptoms of osteoarthritis often start out mild and get worse. This is because joint damage is frequently made worse by use of the joint and it is difficult to stop using a joint entirely. In some people the joint damage progresses quickly, but for most people it develops gradually over years. The symptoms of osteoarthritis may be mild with little effect on your day-to-day life or they may cause significant pain and disability.
The most commonly reported symptoms are pain and stiffness in the joint, which tend to be worse during or after use of the joint, especially early in the course of the disease. Later on, the pain may be present even when the joint is not used.
Other common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- joint tenderness
- loss of flexibility
- grating sensation when the joint is used
- bone spurs (hard lumps formed around the affected joint)
The joints most commonly affected by OA are:
- lower back
The symptoms you experience depend somewhat on which joint is affected. Osteoarthritis rarely affects the jaw, shoulder, elbows, wrists, or ankles unless you have had an injury to one of those sites or you have a lifestyle that places a lot of stress on that particular joint.
Continued on page 3: What causes osteoarthritis?