Some of the warning signs of osteoarthritis are:
- Stiffness of the joint after getting out of bed or sitting for a long time
- Pain in or near the joints when moving or at rest
- Swelling in or near the joint
- Muscle weakness, the joint may feel unstable, as if it is about to give way
- Creaking or cracking sensation with joint movement
If you have these symptoms, and they persist for more than two weeks, you should see your doctor.
Most commonly affected joints
- Hips – OA of the hip affects men and women equally, and often starts when people are in their 50s or 60s. OA may affect one or both hips and pain is usually felt in the front of the groin or around the side and front of the thigh, buttock or down to the knee.
- Knees – OA in the knees is more common in women than men, and being overweight increases the risk of OA of the knee. Pain is usually felt at the front and sides of the knee. While OA usually affects both knees, a previous sporting injury or operation (such as a cartilage being removed) can lead to development in only one knee.
- Hands – There is a genetic predisposition to getting OA in the hands, which most often affects the base of the thumb and the joints at the end of the fingers. Gradually, over several years, firm nodes form, and pain and tenderness decrease. Even once these nodes have developed, the hands generally work well and rarely cause long-term problems. However, the base joint of the thumb may continue to cause an on-going problem. OA in the hands mainly affects women, often occuring in when people are in their 40s or 50s. For women this can occur around the time of the menopause. A person who develops OA in their hands when they are middle aged is more likely to develop OA in the knee, and some other joints, later in life.
- Foot – OA of the foot affects the joint at the base of the big toe. Eventually, the toe may become stiff, which can make walking difficult and can lead to painful bunions.
- Neck and Back – OA of the neck and back is often called spondylosis. X-rays show that it is extremely common, but it often causes no trouble.