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.
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:
- Pain that aches deep into the joint
- Pain that feels better with rest
- Pain that isn’t noticeable in the morning, but gets worse throughout the day
- Pain that radiates into your buttocks, thighs, or groin
- Joint pain that affects your posture and gait and may cause limping
- Pain that occurs after using the joint
- Swelling in the joint
- Not being able to move the joint as much as usual
- Feeling a sensation of bones grating or catching on something when moving the joint
- Pain during certain activities like standing from a seated position or using stairs
- Pain that interferes with work, daily activities and exercise
- Pain that increases with rainy weather
- Joint stiffness first thing in the morning that improves with time
- Stiffness after resting the joint
Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Rheumatoid arthritis has many symptoms that you might not associate with arthritis pain. These can include:
- Joint pain that occurs on both sides of the body, such as both feet, ankles, wrists or fingers
- Significant stiffness in the morning that persists for at least an hour
- Aching muscles all over the body
- Weak muscles
- Feeling tired or depressed
- Losing weight and not having much appetite
- Slight fever
- Swelling of glands
- Joint pain that gets worse after sitting for a long time
- Pain that will ease for periods, then get significantly worse, rather than consistent pain
- Heat and soreness in the joints
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:
- Sharp or shooting
- Hot or burning
- Grinding or grating
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.