Arthritis is incredibly common in the US. In fact, over 50 million Americans currently have the inflammatory condition which affects your joints – the places where your bones connect.
And although you can’t technically heal arthritis, once you know what some of the signs are, you can do a good job of treating it so that it doesn’t get worse.
It’s important to note, however, that “arthritis” refers to more than 100 types of joint diseases including degenerative arthritis, inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and more – all of which affect a person’s joints.
So, if you’re wondering whether or not you’re suffering from arthritis, here are 10 signs to look out for, according to doctors.
You’ve noticed joint swelling.
“Pain and inflammation in a joint will cause an inflammatory reaction where the body would send in cells to combat the inflammation,” she told INSIDER. “This could also lead to increased fluid retention in an area.”
You’re suffering from stiffness in the joints — especially first thing in the morning.
If you feel extra stiff in the mornings when you wake up, Dr. Wu told INSIDER that the stiffness that you’re feeling is possibly due to arthritis.
“As the joint breaks down and with the inflammatory process in play, the joint will be more difficult to move because of the increased pain and swelling,” she said. “If the joint is not moved for a prolonged period of time, it will be difficult to get it started to move so activities like sleeping will lead to morning stiffness in the joint.”
The size of your joint(s) have increased.
Although many people are not privy to the ins and outs of how their body works, one thing you should know is that your joints actually can change size as a result of arthritis.
“Chronic inflammation and irritation from the degenerative changes will alter the shape of the bone ends,” Dr. Wu said. “The body will find ways of moving and holding itself where it feels less pain and it can move more easily but along with that will come changes in bone structure that will then also lead to movement difficulties and/or pain.”
You find difficulty using your joints.
If it’s becoming difficult to bend or move certain joints on your body, there’s a high chance that you’re suffering from arthritis. And according to Dr. Wu, this is a pretty serious sign.
“Pain, inflammation, irritation, bony alignment changes lead to difficulties with muscle activation around the joint. The body weakens immediately around an injured area so the muscle weakness along with the aforementioned symptoms will lead to increased dysfunction.”
There’s pain in your joints.
Waking up in the morning or going through your day with consistent pain is extremely uncomfortable. If you’re feeling a bit aggravated due to joint pain, you may be in the beginning stages of arthritis.
“Joint pain is a common early manifestation of arthritis,” Chirag Shah, MD, co-founder of Acessa Labs, said. “The pain is often sharp and stabbing and lasts a few minutes or more, even while at rest. The hands and wrists are often affected early but pain can occur in any joint.”
Your skin is developing nodules.
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis get skin nodules.
“Skin nodules are lumps that form near joints and can be an early indicator of rheumatoid arthritis,” Shah said. “They might be soft or hard but generally warrant additional medical investigation.”
You notice swelling, redness, and heat.
Board-certified internal medicine physician and author of “Keep Away from GRAS: Generally Recognised As Safe,” Marcela Magda Popa, MD told INSIDER that though some of the signs are difficult to really pinpoint, if you notice that there is swelling, that means that there is inflammatory pain.
“The inflammatory pain involves other signs such as swelling, redness, and heat over the involved joint,” she said. “In this setting, people also report prolonged (over 60 minutes) morning stiffness, and fatigue.”
You’re having issues with other parts of your body.
There could be other disorders that go hand-in-hand with your arthritis.
“Inflammatory arthritis is often seen in autoimmune disorders,” Popa said. “It is often associated with additional, extra-articular manifestations (rashes, nodules, colitis, eye disorders). The kidneys and lungs are often involved in this.”
You hurt when sitting down.
Depending on the type of arthritis you have, according to Everyday Health you could experience both pain and stiffness in your joints while sitting for long periods of time. And depending on the severity of the condition, you may feel it even when you’re sitting for short periods, too.
You find issue with conducting your daily tasks.
According to WebMD, if you’ve started to take issue with things that you previously have had no trouble doing, this may be because you have arthritis. This could include bending over, squatting, bending your knees, typing, and more.
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.