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What are the symptoms of arthritis?

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As there are many types of arthritis, there's also a wide range of symptoms.

With inflammatory arthritis there’s likely to be more swelling of the joints and more variation in the pain (which can't be explained simply by the level of physical activity). Other common symptoms include:

  • early morning joint stiffness
  • tiredness
  • a general feeling of being unwell
  • weight loss
  • mild fevers or night sweats
  • skin rashes.

But remember these symptoms aren’t specific to arthritis and can be caused by other illnesses.

Should I see a doctor?

It’s common to experience aches and pains in your muscles and joints from time to time, particularly if you take part in unusual or strenuous physical activities. So how can you distinguish the early signs of arthritis from normal pain and stiffness? And how do you know when you should see your doctor about your symptoms?

If you experience swelling or stiffness, or if it becomes painful to squeeze your joints, you need to consult your doctor. The earlier you get diagnosed, the better the outcome.

Here are some more factors you should consider before seeing a healthcare professional.

Persistence of symptoms

  • How and when did the pain start?
  • If the pain developed after unusual exercise or activity you may have just overdone it a bit, and the pain should ease within a few days.
  • Seek advice if the pain isn't linked to an injury or if the pain persists.

Swelling of joints

  • If a joint becomes swollen, and isn't linked to an injury, seek advice.
  • This is particularly true if you're unwell or have a fever.

Effects on your daily life

  • Seek advice if you're unable to do everyday tasks due to joint or muscle pain.
  • If you've lifted something heavy and hurt your back, for example, take some painkillers, apply some heat and try to stay active. If the pain doesn't ease after a day or so, seek advice.

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