Osteoarthritis signs and symptoms
Osteoarthritis symptoms can vary from person to person and depend on which body part is affected. They can often interfere with your normal day-to-day activities and affect your mood.
Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
Joint swelling (inflammation)
A grinding or crunching sensation with joint movement (crepitus)
Loss of flexibility or restricted movement in a joint
- Muscle weakness
If you have joint pain, discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Before giving you a diagnosis, your doctor will review your symptoms, any risk factors and examine the affected joint.
Osteoarthritis has often been described as ‘wear and tear’ on your joint, but it is now understood that it may occur as a result of many factors.
Factors that can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis include:
- Age over 45 years
- Being a woman
- Family history of knee osteoarthritis (genetics)
- Being overweight
- Previous injury or damage to a joint
- Repetitive movements on or overuse of a joint.
Managing osteoarthritis depends on your symptoms and which joint is affected, and usually involves different combinations of exercise, pain medications, and lifestyle changes. Exercise and weight management are key for managing your pain, and managing your pain is important to help stay active.
Regular exercise that improves muscle strength, joint flexibility, balance, and general fitness is recommended to help reduce symptoms, relieve pain, and improve mobility. Speak with your doctor or physiotherapist about the right types of exercise for your condition.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important when you have osteoarthritis, as extra weight or fat can increase the pain and inflammation in your joints. Other lifestyle changes that may help you reduce your osteoarthritis symptoms include walking aids, braces or taping, tai chi or yoga, and cognitive behavioural therapy. Speak with your doctor or health professional about what lifestyle changes may be right for you.
Medications commonly used to relieve osteoarthritis acute flare up pain include analgesics, which provide temporary pain relief, and oral and topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, which provide pain relief and reduce inflammation in your joints. Speak with your doctor about the appropriate medications for your osteoarthritis symptoms.