Warning Signs of Arthritis

signs of arthritis

Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in your joints. Arthritis affects over 50 million adults in the United States. According to the CDC, arthritis is also the number 1 cause of disability in the US. Arthritis can develop for a multitude of reasons including genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Arthritis is a progressive condition, meaning that the longer it is left untreated the worse the condition gets. Keep reading to learn about eight common warning signs of arthritis.

Types of Arthritis

There are over 100 types of arthritis. The two most common types are inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Inflammatory types of arthritis cause the body attacks its own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis, the most common inflammatory arthritis, is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system is tricked into attacking and destroying healthy tissues that protect joints. 

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is generally caused by old age. It is often called “wear-and-tear” arthritis because it occurs when the cartilage and tissue protecting joints wear away. There are different causes and symptoms for every kind of arthritis.

Warning Signs of Arthritis

Because of the wide variety of types of arthritis, warning signs can be tricky to narrow down. Luckily, there are several warning signs of arthritis that are the same across the board. 

Joint Pain

Joint pain may be a sign of developing arthritis. Pain may be triggered during activity, after activity, or at the end of the day. Joint pain particularly occurs as a symptom of osteoarthritis that has developed as a result of a former injury, such as a repetitive strain injury.

Joint Swelling

Swelling and tenderness are signs that your arthritis is getting worse. Joints that appear larger, more red than usual, and are warm to the touch may be showing signs of arthritis. As arthritis gets worse, swelling will occur more frequently for longer periods of time.

Joint Stiffness

Joint stiffness, particularly in the mornings, is one of the earliest and most common signs of arthritis. Stiffness may prevent the use of the full range of motion of your joints. If stiffness lasts longer than 30 minutes at a time, it may be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis.


Fevers occur when the body raises its temperature in order to fight infection or inflammation. A prolonged low-grade fever may be a sign that your body is trying to fight inflammation in your joints. Fever may be caused by other conditions, but don’t rule arthritis out, especially if other warning signs of arthritis are present.


Malaise is a general ill-feeling for a prolonged period of time. It generally occurs with unrelenting pain, inflammation, and loss of mobility, all of which are symptoms of arthritis. Malaise is a sign of arthritis when it occurs with other symptoms, like prolonged joint pain or swelling.


Persistent fatigue is a sign of arthritis. It is not just general tiredness, but rather deep-rooted fatigue that sticks around even after a good night’s sleep. It is a result of combined symptoms like joint pain and inflammation. Fatigue is more likely to occur in conjunction with inflammatory arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis.

Skin Nodules

Certain types of arthritis are associated with nodules, or lumps, that develop near the joint.

25% of people with rheumatoid arthritis develop firm, non-tender nodules just below the surface of the skin. These nodules can range in size from a piece of rice to a walnut.

Joint Grinding

Joint grinding occurs when the cartilage and tissue on a joint have worn away. It can cause a grating sound or sensation. Grinding is most common in the knees, but it can occur in other joints.

Treatment For Arthritis

Arthritis signs tend to snowball quickly, so it is important to recognize the warning signs and get help as soon as possible. Though there is no cure for arthritis, there are steps that you and your doctor can take to lessen the pain and prevent progression. Some treatments include medication, topical creams, exercise, and surgery, in severe cases. Your primary doctor will be able to treat low-level symptoms, but if symptoms progress, they may send you to a rheumatologist, which is someone who specializes in treating arthritis. 

If you experience any of the warning signs of arthritis, reach out to your primary care physician. 

Work Health Solutions is an occupational health company that offers a variety of services that can help you and your employees recognize the early warning signs of arthritis and take steps to prevent arthritis. In order to protect your health and wellness, it is important to recognize and act on these warning signs of arthritis.

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Work Health Solutions has made it our mission to help provide necessary healthcare for those who need it, especially in the working environment. We understand the difficulty of taking care of employees in the workplace, and if you need help putting together a strategy, contact us today.

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