Do I Have Arthritis?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 70 million Americans over 18 will be diagnosed with arthritis within the next 20 years. Is your joint pain a result of arthritis? Only a health professional can give you an accurate diagnosis, but there are signs that typically point to arthritis.


Arthritis is the tenderness or swelling of the joints which normally gets worse with age. There are over a hundred different kinds of arthritis, but the most common conditions are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder and happens when the body’s immune system attacks the joints and other bodily tissues, including the fluid that lubricates the joints and nourishes the cartilage.
  • Osteoarthritis (OA) causes the breakdown of cartilage – the slippery, hard tissue that covers the joint. Your osteoarthritis risk may increase if you have a family history of the disease.

There are 4 essential warning signs and symptoms of arthritis that should prompt you to talk to your doctor.

1. Pain

Pain might come and go, or it may be constant. It may occur while moving, but it can also occur when your body is resting. Pain may be present in a single area or in different parts of the body. You might notice pain when you first get up in the morning.

2. Stiffness

Pain and stiffness are classic arthritis symptoms. You may notice them especially after waking up, after riding in a car for a long time or after prolonged sitting. If your morning pain and stiffness lasts for more than an hour, you may have arthritis.

3. Swelling

There are types of arthritis that causes the skin around the affected area to become swollen and red. It might also feel warm to the touch. Visit your healthcare provider if you experience swelling that lasts for more than 3 days and if it happens more than 3 times in a month.

4. Difficulty moving

Getting up from your favorite chair shouldn’t be that painful or hard. If you notice a reduced range of motion and if you hear popping or cracking sounds when you move a joint, visit your doctor.

Seeing a doctor is a good first step if you suspect arthritis and have signs and symptoms of arthritis. Your physician will perform a physical exam to check if your joints are warm or red. Your doctor will also check for fluid surrounding the joints as well as limited range of motion. You might be referred to a specialist, depending on your condition.