It's perfectly normal to get aching joints and weakness from time to time, especially if you're starting a brand new fitness regimen; however, chronic or abnormal pain could indicate signs of early arthritis, and those should definitely be taken more seriously, as explained by experts at Healthline. Developing arthritis can be debilitating, as the inflammation in the joints can interfere with daily tasks and functioning and lower your quality of life and mobility, if left untreated. Arthritis can be a struggle, so it's best to take preventative measures and develop healthy habits to stop or delay its onset.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on getting rid of inflammation in the body, protecting joints and muscles, and tuning in to the body on the regular. When you listen to your body's needs, you're better able to serve it to its greatest advantage and protect it from inflammation, harm, overuse, or other harmful conditions that can affect your wellbeing. Arthritis can be a total nuisance, as uncomfortable joints can hinder your ability to move and enjoy certain activities (such as running). Here are 11 signs of early arthritis that you should look out for now that will help lower your risk of contraction.
1. Joint Pain
According to Dr. Kel Vasileff, sports medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, over email with Bustle, if you experience pain in your joints, it could signify early arthritis. "Joints that are beginning to have arthritic involvement tend to be somewhat painful. The pain is usually more of a deep, dull ache, and develops gradually over time," says Vasileff. "Sometimes, the pain is worse early in the day and activity helps to make the joint feel better, and vigorous activity can cause the pain to flare up more," Vasileff adds.
2. Stiffness In Joints
"This, along with many other symptoms are typically related to the inflammation associated with arthritis," says Vasileff. "The stiffness may be worse [in the morning], and at 'start-up', and can loosen a bit with movement," says Vasileff. Try some nice stretching or low-intensity exercise, like a walk or yoga, to ease the stiffness.
3. Swelling In Joints
"Arthritic joints can be appear swollen. Sometimes this is due to increased fluid in the joint that your body produces in response to the arthritis and irritation in the joint," says Vasileff. "Other times the apparent swelling can be related to bone spurs forming as the arthritis gets worse," Vasileff adds. The inflammation associated with arthritis is a clear symptom, as further explained by experts at WebMD.
4. Tender To Touch
"Arthritic, irritated, inflamed joints can be tender to the touch," says Vasileff. "More superficial joints like knee, ankles, and those in the hands may be sensitive to contact and bumping," Vasileff further adds.
5. Creaky Joints
"Creaking, catching, popping, grating feeling," Vasileff uses to describe the phenomenon. "Arthritis is, in part, a breakdown of the normal, smooth, articular cartilage in a joint. Rough, loose cartilage and other tissue in the joint can interfere with smooth joint motion," says Vasileff. "Joints can feel like they get stuck or locked, or may feel like there is a sandpaper-type grating sensation in the joint when it is moved as the irregular cartilage moves through contact areas," Vasileff adds.
According to Dr. Partha Nandi M.D., F.A.C.P, the creator and host of the Emmy-award winning medical lifestyle television show, “Ask Dr. Nandi,” which airs in over 85 million homes, and the Chief Health Editor at WXYZ-TV (ABC) Detroit, over email with Bustle, "fever with joint swelling" could be a clear indicator of early arthritis.
7. Red Hot Joints
"Red hot joints," says Nandi, can be a clear sign of early onset arthritis. "Arthritis is the leading cause of disability for adults over 55 years of age, but even youngsters at age 12 can suffer from arthritis. Since people of all ages can suffer from arthritis, it's important to recognize the early signs of arthritis," says Nandi.
8. Fatigue & Low Energy
If you're super fatigued, but also experience stiffness in the joints (that don't immediately get better with movement), and lack of range in motion, advises Nandi, then you might be experiencing symptoms of early arthritis. If so, it's wise to check with a physician,
9. Enlarged Joint Size
Dr. Karena Wu, owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy in NYC, advises over Bustle, that a larger joint size, due to "chronic inflammation and irritation from the degenerative changes that will alter the shape of the bone ends," might appear. "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," adds Wu.
10. Difficulty Using Joints
"Pain, inflammation, irritation, and bony alignment changes lead to difficulties with muscle activation around the joint," says Wu. "The body weakens immediately around an injured area so the muscle weakness, along with the aforementioned symptoms will lead to increased dysfunction," explains Wu.
11. Achy Hands
Over email with Bustle, Jason Poquette RPh and Osteo Bi-Flex advocate, says that "achy hands, fatigue or morning stiffness may all be indicators of arthritis setting in." If you're experiencing weakness in these areas, it's important to see a doctor to rule out early arthritis.
If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with a physician to rule out arthritis conditions. If developed, arthritis can affect many areas of your life relative to physical and mental wellbeing.