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Arthritis symptoms

Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in joints and affects around 10 million people of all ages in the UK. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is often called 'wear and tear' arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the body's immune system turns on itself attacking joints.

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

Arthritis symptoms differ from person to person depending on the type of arthritis they have.

Joint pain and progressive stiffness without noticeable swelling, chills or a raised temperature during normal activities probably indicate the gradual onset of symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Painful swelling, inflammation, and stiffness in the fingers, arms, legs, and wrists occurring in the same joints on both sides of the body, especially on awakening, may be signs of rheumatoid arthritis.

Fever, joint inflammation, tenderness, and sharp pain, sometimes accompanied by chills and associated with an injury or another illness, may indicate septic arthritis.

Gout: Gout is a form of arthritis, in which crystals of sodium urate produced by the body form inside joints causing sudden and severe pain, swelling and redness. Gout affects around one in 45 people in the UK and is more common in men than it is in women.

Ankylosing spondylitis: This is a chronic type of arthritis affecting the spine's bones, muscles and ligaments. Symptoms include back pain, stiffness and in some cases, long-term disability.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis or JIA: In children, joint pain and swelling, intermittent fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, and anaemia, or blotchy rash on the arms and legs may signal juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Most types of childhood arthritis are referred to by doctors as juvenile idiopathic arthritis or JIA.

Oligo-articular JIA affects four or fewer joints in the body, often knees, ankles and wrists. Children with this condition may also develop eye problems.

Symptoms of polyarticular JIA include a rash and fever of 38C (100.4F) or higher.

Systemic onset JIA has symptoms including fever, rash, loss of energy or lethargy, enlarged glands and swollen and inflamed joints.

Enthesitis-related arthritis causes pain in the soles of the feet, knee and hip joints.

Seek medical advice about arthritis if:

  • The pain and stiffness come on quickly, whether from an injury or an unknown cause; you may be experiencing the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • The pain is accompanied by fever; you may have septic arthritis.
  • You notice pain and stiffness in your arms, legs, or back after sitting for short periods or after a night's sleep; you may be developing osteoarthritis or another arthritic condition.
  • A child develops joint pain or a rash, or has temperature swings, poor appetite, and weight loss; the child may have juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on October 07, 2014

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