5 Common Signs of Osteoarthritis

5 Common Signs of Osteoarthritis

Did you know that about 33 million adults in the US have osteoarthritis (OA), making it the most common joint disorder in America? In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that in less than 20 years, more than one quarter of adults in America will be diagnosed with this condition.  

At Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers, our board-certified providers have the expertise needed to diagnose and treat different types of OA at our offices in Arlington and Mansfield, Texas. Take a moment to stay informed by reading about some of the most common signs of OA and what to do if you suspect you may have this joint condition.      

What is osteoarthritis? 

OA is caused by the wear-and-tear of the cartilage in your joint. This cartilage absorbs impact and prevents your bones from rubbing against each other. Over time, your cartilage can crack, harden, or wear away. The result? Your bones rub against each other and begin to grind down, causing you pain.

Different factors can speed its development, like age or injuries to the affected joint. Being overweight or obese also increases your risk because extra weight increases the stress on your joints and the excess body weight can trigger your endocrine system to release chemicals that cause inflammation and hurt your joints. 

What are some signs I may have osteoarthritis? 

It’s important to understand the early signs of OA because once your cartilage breaks down, it can't grow back. Most people know that joint pain and soreness are signs of OA, but there are additional symptoms to watch for that can let you know OA is developing. Here’s a closer look:

1. Your joint feels stiff

Joint stiffness is one of the most common signs of OA. Most people with OA notice the stiffness after periods of rest or inactivity, like sitting at work, watching a movie, or traveling in a car or plane. While everyone experiences stiff joints from time to time, if you notice joint stiffness on a regular or increasing basis, call your provider to schedule an exam.  

2. Your joint makes cracks, clicks, or pops when you move

If you’ve noticed your joint clicking, cracking, creaking, or popping when you move, it could be caused by bone-to-bone friction. This condition, called crepitus, occurs when the bones grate against each other because of the lack of cartilage to protect them. 

There are other causes of crepitus, such as air bubbles in your joint or the pulling or snapping of tendons and ligaments. If you have a noisy joint along with any other symptoms of OA, schedule an evaluation with your provider to explore the cause. 

3. You’ve noticed swelling in the joint

Your joints contain a special fluid, called synovial fluid, to provide lubrication. OA can cause a build-up of synovial fluid and result in the swelling of the soft tissues around the joint. It can also cause redness, pain, and tenderness. 

4. You can’t move the joint like you used to

Even in its early stages, OA can change the way your body moves, making it more difficult to use your joint. The stiffness and pain associated with OA may contribute to a reduced range of motion and loss of flexibility. 

Typically, this loss of range of motion or mobility is a slow, gradual process. You may notice that walking, going up stairs, or engaging in the physical activities you once enjoyed becomes more and more difficult over time. 

5. Your symptoms are worse in the morning or after rest

Because your joints don’t move at rest the way they do when you’re awake, many people with OA notice their symptoms are worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity. The joint fluids can settle and make stiffness and swelling worse, and you may find it hard to move the joint upon waking or getting up from rest. 

What should I do if I’m worried about osteoarthritis?

The best thing to do if you’re worried about osteoarthritis is to schedule a consultation with a provider at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers. While OA isn’t curable, your doctor does everything possible to help manage your condition. 

After an evaluation of your physical condition, assessment of your symptoms, and review of your medical and family histories, your team member creates a personalized treatment plan to help manage your pain. Possible treatments include:

If you’re experiencing any signs of osteoarthritis, contact a provider at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers. Schedule a consultation by calling the office of your choice, or request an appointment online at your convenience.  

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