Hardly anyone escapes the annoyance of occasional aches and pains, especially as we age. But at Tri-State Pain Institute, we know that persistent joint pain and stiffness can be signs of arthritis, which affects about 50 million American adults.

So how do you determine if your symptoms are caused by arthritis or something else? While joint pain and stiffness are the most common terms used to describe arthritis pain, the warning signs are pretty specific. Here are the key indicators for osteoarthritis pain and rheumatoid arthritis pain.

Osteoarthritis Pain

Pain is pain, right? But in order for the pain experts at Tri-State Pain Institute to figure out whether your joint pain stems from osteoarthritis, a common type of arthritis that occurs as cartilage wears away, you’ll need to be specific about when the pain occurs, how bad it is and the ways it’s affecting you.

Here are some common signs of osteoarthritis that may help you to identify and better describe your pain:

Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

Rheumatoid arthritis has many symptoms that you might not associate with arthritis pain. These can include:

Telling Your Doctor About Your Joint Pain

In order to determine if your pain is due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or another type of arthritis, our pain experts will ask you many questions about your pain, how it affects your life and body, when it occurs and how bad it gets. Our specialists at the Pain Institute may ask you to rate your pain on a scale from 1 (almost no pain) to 10 (unbearable pain).

When describing your pain, here are some terms that will help us get the full picture. Choose the ones that best describe how the arthritis pain feels:

You also may want to keep a diary of how you feel each day, rating your pain at different times and after different activities. Record what makes your pain feel better, and what makes it worse. Also share with our pain experts what you can and cannot do because of your pain; for instance, make note of whether you can drive a car comfortably, but have difficulty holding a fork. We also want to know about any other symptoms you are experiencing (such as fever or a skin rash), which could point to another kind of arthritis.

Taking the time to focus on your pain and other symptoms will help the pain management specialists at Tri-State Pain Institute formulate a clear diagnosis, and find the best course of treatment to help ease your pain.