Hands that ache, wrists that pop and knees that creak as you climb the stairs – are these normal parts of aging or early signs of arthritis?
Over 50 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with arthritis. This number is expected to reach more than 78 million by the year 2040. But despite the fact that arthritis is incredibly common, most people do not seek medical treatment until it has begun to interfere with their daily activities. By this time, patients may have already suffered significant joint damage.
While there is no cure for arthritis, early diagnosis and intervention can lead to more effective treatments and improved outcomes. Take some time to review these early warning signs of arthritis that you should discuss with your doctor:
- Morning stiffness – It’s normal for joints to feel a little stiff upon waking, but this should dissipate quickly as you get up and move around. Stiffness that lingers for a few minutes could be an early sign of degenerative arthritis, while stiffness that lasts 30 minutes or more could indicate inflammatory arthritis.
- Joint pain – Joint tenderness during movement or rest is a hallmark symptom of arthritis, but several other conditions can contribute to joint pain. Any symptoms that persist should be presented to your doctor for further investigation.
- Swollen joints – Joints that appear larger than normal or are warm to the touch indicate joint inflammation, a symptom of arthritis. Inflammation can last for days or weeks and will increase in frequency over time.
- Decreased range of motion – As joints become tender and inflamed, you may notice your movements become more restricted. While this might encourage you to become sedentary, your doctor will likely recommend that you begin a fitness regimen. Physical activity keeps joints limber and reduces stiffness.
- Numbness or tingling – Pain and discomfort in the hands and wrists could be a sign of carpal tunnel syndrome, but it could also indicate arthritis. Discuss these symptoms with your doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.
- Fatigue – Fatigue is a hallmark symptom of arthritis. Tiredness and loss of appetite may occur alongside joint pain and stiffness, or it may even precede these symptoms (Source: Healthline).
Arthritis is not a curable condition, but it can be managed with medications, lifestyle modifications and natural therapies. If you’ve been experiencing problematic symptoms, don’t ignore them any longer. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns. The sooner you have a diagnosis, the sooner you’ll be on the path to relief.