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Early Signs of Osteoarthritis in Adults

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

There are over 100 different kinds of arthritis. The most common among them is osteoarthritis (OA). In the United States, symptomatic knee OA tends to occur in 10% of the men and 13% of the women aged 60 years and above, according to an article by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. This is significantly higher than the number of cases reported for the other types of arthritis, rheumatoid and psoriatic. While only 1.5 million people suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, about 30 million Americans are living with osteoarthritis. So, addressing this condition is definitely the need of the hour.

In simple terms, it is the wear and tear of the joints, as a result of aging, which leads to OA. This is why evidence-based public awareness campaigns emphasize the need for physical activity to help manage the condition. However, the symptoms develop gradually and not being mindful could have severe consequences. So, here are the signs you should be aware of that indicate the possibility of osteoarthritis.

Stiff Joints

This is one of the early signs, post which patients usually avoid movement, which further increases the problem, according to experts at Coastal Home Rehab. When you stand up after sitting at one place for long or wake up after hours of sleep, a strong “wooden feeling” sets in. This can be relieved via gentle exercises, like stretching or simply massaging the area.

Reduced Flexibility

Moving your joints might suddenly become less comfortable than before. This happens because the range of motion is limited with the onset of osteoarthritis. Climbing stairs, bending over or simply lifting heavy objects might result in a sharp pain. Loss of flexibility is a gradual process and tends to increase in the absence of timely intervention.

Pain and Inflammation

This is usually categorized as pain and tenderness, experienced in the wrists, knees, ankles, hips and fingers, according to an article on Healthline. In fact, you will also feel that these areas are swollen due to the inflammation of the soft tissues. However, it becomes prominently visible only in the later stages.

Abnormal Grating Sensation

With osteoarthritis, the cartilages tend to wear down. When this happens, the joints fail to move smoothly and produce a strange sensation. You might also hear clicking, popping and cracking sounds during knee, arm and wrist movements. In medical terms, this is known as crepitus. These are the sounds that bones produce when they rub against each other, in the absence of the cartilage.

It is vital to be mindful of these telltale signs. They can be effectively managed with at-home physical and occupational therapy. If left untreated, the degeneration would continue and even reach a stage where major joint replacement surgery might be the only treatment option left.


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