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  • Writer's pictureThe Ideal Team

Arthritis: Signs & Symptoms

Arthritis is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by joint inflammation and stiffness, leading to pain and reduced mobility. There are several different types of arthritis, each with its own set of signs and symptoms. In today's blog, we will explore the common signs and symptoms of arthritis and provide some general information about the condition.

Who gets arthritis?

Arthritis affects people of every age, gender and ethnic background. Genetics, age and lifestyle can all play a part in increasing one’s risk of developing arthritis. Today, 1 in 5 Canadians have arthritis. While it is largely an adult disease, it can also affect children. 1 in 2 adults aged 65 and over have arthritis.

Types of Arthritis

There are over 100 different types of arthritis, but the most common ones include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Although they may have some similarities in terms of joint pain and inflammation, each type of arthritis has its distinct signs and symptoms. **For a deeper look at the different types of Arthritis, read our blog here.

Common Signs and Symptoms

1. Joint Pain: One of the most common symptoms of arthritis is joint pain. This pain can range from mild to severe and may be accompanied by tenderness and swelling around the affected joint.

2. Stiffness: Arthritis often causes stiffness in the joints, making it difficult to move them freely. This stiffness is usually more pronounced in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

3. Reduced Range of Motion: As arthritis progresses, it can decrease the affected joints' range of motion. This can make it challenging to perform everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or even grasping objects.

4. Swelling: Inflammation is a hallmark of arthritis, often leading to swelling around the affected joints. This swelling can cause the joints to appear larger than usual and may contribute to feelings of warmth or redness in the area.

5. Fatigue: Many people with arthritis experience fatigue, resulting from chronic pain, inflammation, or the body's immune response. The fatigue associated with arthritis can make it difficult to engage in daily activities and may impact overall quality of life.

6. Joint Deformities: In some cases, arthritis can cause joint deformities, particularly in more advanced stages of the disease. These deformities can result in visible changes to the affected joints, such as knobby finger joints in rheumatoid arthritis.

The following charts, adapted from The Arthritis Society of Canada, offer a snapshot of the warning signs and affected joints for two common types of arthritis.

Inflammatory Arthritis

Warning Signs

  • ​Pain, swelling and stiffness in one or multiple joints

  • Morning stiffness in and around the affected joints lasting at least one hour

  • Pain and stiffness that worsens with inactivity and improves with physical activity

  • Reduced range of motion

  • Sometimes fever, weight loss, fatigue and/or anemia

How many joints does it affect?

  • Usually affects multiple joints

  • Different types of inflammatory arthritis have differing patterns of joint involvement. For example rheumatoid arthritis tends to be symmetrical, involving joints on both sides of the body (e.g. both hands, both elbows, etc.) whereas psoriatic arthritis maybe symmetrical or asymmetrical

What joints can be affected?

Any joint can be affected, but most commonly:

  • Small joints of the hands and feet

  • Wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, lower back and hips


Warning Signs

  • Very early symptoms of osteoarthritis are intermittent pain with strenuous activity; over time, the pain is present more often

  • Morning stiffness or stiffness after a period of inactivity, usually lasting less than 30 minutes

  • Joint grinding

How many joints does it affect?

Usually a few joints or a single joint, often with asymmetrical joint involvement early on (e.g. one knee may be affected but not the other)

What joints can be affected?

  • Weight-bearing joints, such as hips and knees

  • Neck

  • Lower back

  • Hands

Arthritis is a complex condition that can significantly impact the lives of those affected. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of arthritis is crucial for early detection and proper management of the disease. If you experience persistent joint pain, stiffness, or any other symptoms mentioned in this blog, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. With appropriate care, individuals with arthritis can find relief and improve their quality of life.


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