How Do I Know If I Have Arthritis?

How Do I Know If I Have Arthritis?

May 11, 2018

It’s normal to feel aches and pains as you grow older, so when do you know it’s time to see a doctor? Arthritis is the leading cause of joint pain in adults, affecting one in five Americans. If you have any of these symptoms, it may be time to get checked out by a doctor.

There are three common types of arthritis: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. It’s valuable to know the difference between these three types so you can determine your diagnosis.

arthritis knee photo


This is the most common type of arthritis in older adults. It usually occurs from the natural wear-and-tear of the cartilage between your joint’s bones. When cartilage breaks down, the bones rub together, causing pain. This condition most commonly occurs in hips and knees.

How do you know if you have OA? 

Osteoarthritis flares us with stiffness and dull aches in your joints. You may have OA if you:

  • Feel stiffness in your joints after long periods of rest, especially in the morning when you first wake up
  • Notice swelling in your joints after activity
  • Feel tenderness or even heat when you touch the aching joint
  • Have limited movement in a joint or joints

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can occur at any age because it is an autoimmune disease. It develops when your immune system attacks your own body’s tissue, injuring the protective lining of your joints, and most commonly occurs in the hands and feet.

How do you know if you have RA?

Because rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, it’s important to know the symptoms. RA typically starts in smaller joints, such as the hands, wrists, elbows, feet, and toes. However, it can spread to your larger joints. Symptoms of RA are:

  • Painful swelling in your joints
  • Fatigue after activity
  • Tender joints
  • Joint deformity
  • Fever and weight loss

One noticeable trait of RA is that it often occurs on symmetrical parts of your body.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease that usually begins with psoriasis, a skin condition. Psoriasis can cause itching, dryness, and scaly rashes. Psoriatic arthritis may not occur for decades after a psoriasis diagnosis. If you have psoriasis, it’s important to know the warning signs of arthritis so that you could get it treated early.

How do you know if you have psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis occurs most commonly in the knees, ankles, fingers, toes, and lower back. Symptoms include:

  • Stiffness in your joints, especially in the morning
  • Painful swelling in the fingers and toes
  • Pain where tendons and ligaments attach to your joints. This means you may have foot pain at the back of your heel
  • Joint tenderness to the touch

Some arthritic symptoms overlap, so it may be difficult to know which form of arthritis you have. If you believe you may have one of these conditions, it is always best to get checked out by a doctor before symptoms worsen.

We are leading joint replacement surgeons in the Midwest and treat numerous joint conditions. Call our office today if you would like to make an appointment or speak to a nurse.


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