Osteoarthritis: Signs and Symptoms You Need to See a Doctor

Health Education
July 14, 2021
5 mins
Osteoarthritis: Signs and Symptoms You Need to See a Doctor

Osteoarthritis, also known as OA, “wear-and-tear” arthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, osteoarthritis affects over 32 million adults in the US. It’s a staggering figure, representing a huge percentage of the overall US population.

Osteoarthritis is an extremely common and serious condition, one that can be debilitating in its advanced stages. All adults need to recognize the signs and symptoms of OA so that they can seek treatment right away. Read on to learn about this common form of arthritis, its signs and symptoms, and when to see a doctor.  

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the deterioration of joint tissue. Inside every joint in your body, there are elastic and soft tissues, including cartilage. Cartilage helps to cushion bones as they move so that they don’t rub up against or obstruct each other. However, when cartilage breaks down, the bones may touch or pinch, which can cause pain and may even affect the shape of the bones in the joint.

Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint in your body, but it’s most common in the hip, knee, hand, lower back, and neck joints. Unfortunately, it tends to worsen over time and, without treatment, can be debilitating. OA can lead to such serious joint deterioration that they can become deformed or immobile.

Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For

While it’s natural for joint tissue to degenerate slightly while you age, osteoarthritis is different because of its severity. These are the most common signs and symptoms for osteoarthritis:

● Pain: Joint pain may be a sign of osteoarthritis. If the pain is ongoing and severe enough to interfere with your daily activities, see a doctor.

● Stiffness: As joint cartilage deteriorates, the bones that meet at the joint may be more difficult to move. Joints that are stiff, hard to move, or less flexible may be deteriorating. If you notice that it’s harder to perform certain activities like walking, you may have OA.

● Swelling: As joints break down, they may become swollen, red, and/or tender to the touch. Swollen joints nearly always indicate a serious health problem, so even if this isn’t directly related to osteoarthritis, you should still see a doctor anyway.

● Noises: If your joints make clicking or cracking sounds when you move them, they may be losing cartilage. Joints should never be noisy.

● Giving out: If a joint “gives out”, or suddenly becomes unstable, the joint tissue may be damaged. This frequently happens in the knees, which can cause you to fall.

Risk Factors

Certain people are at higher risk of osteoarthritis. If you fall into one of the following categories and are experiencing signs and symptoms from the list above, you may be suffering from OA.

● Elderly: The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age, especially if you’re elderly.

● History of joint injuries: Previous joint injuries can lead to cartilage loss in the future.

● Overuse of joints: Athletes, manual laborers, and other people who repeatedly use the same joints can develop OA in overused areas.

● Female: Women are more likely than men to develop osteoarthritis. However, there are millions of men with OA as well.

● Obese: High body weight puts excessive strain on the joints and can lead to cartilage loss. Also, fatty tissue cells promote inflammation of the joints.

● Family history of OA: If you’re related to a person who suffers from osteoarthritis, you have a higher likelihood of developing this condition, too.

Visit BASS Medical Group

If you identify with any of the signs, symptoms, and/or risk factors on this list, you should see a doctor. Even seemingly minor joint problems like mild pain and stiffness can point to early stages of osteoarthritis. Visit a joint specialist at BASS Medical Group to discuss your osteoarthritis symptoms, learn about OA, and start a treatment plan. With effective treatment, you can experience relief from osteoarthritis.