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What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are:

Pain – The pain tends to be worse when you move your joint or at the end of the day. If you have severe osteoarthritis, you may feel pain more often.

Stiffness – Your joints may feel stiff after rest, but this usually wears off as you get moving.

A grating or grinding sensation (crepitus) – Your joint may creak or crunch as you move.

Swelling – The swelling may be hard (caused by osteophytes) or soft (caused by synovial thickening and extra fluid), and the muscles around your joint may look thin or wasted.

Not being able to use your joint normally – Your joint may not move as freely or as far as normal. Sometimes it may give way because your muscles have weakened or your joint has become less stable. Exercises to strengthen your muscles can help to prevent this.

Your symptoms will often vary for no clear reason – you’ll probably have good and bad spells. Some people find that changes in the weather make the pain worse, especially damp weather along with falling atmospheric pressure. Others find the pain varies depending on how active they’ve been.

In more severe cases, the pain might not go away. It might stop you sleeping and cause difficulties in your daily activities. For example, osteoarthritis of the knee or hip can make it difficult to climb stairs or get up from a chair.

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