Many factors can contribute to the disease’s progression, including obesity and sports or work-related injuries. The first signs that you may have osteoarthritis are pain and swelling or stiffness in your joints that last longer than two weeks.
The disease most commonly affects the hips, knees, feet and spine, but can also affect finger and thumb joints. Many people think it’s a short-term problem that will go away on its own, but if the symptoms persist for more than two weeks, you should consult your doctor for a treatment plan. Osteoarthritis never just goes away on its own.
The damage this disease causes is created over a long period of time. What may start out as a sore joint can evolve into the grating noise of your bones creating friction as they rub against one another.
As the disease progresses, you’ll begin to notice that everyday tasks such as walking up the stairs or doing a load of laundry are more and more difficult. You may soon start to notice these symptoms of osteoarthritis:
- Loss of movement
- Stiffness and swelling in the joints
- Swollen joints
- Loss of flexibility
- Snapping of the joints
- Floating cartilage in the joint
- Pain during movement of the affected joint
- Bony growths at the joints and abnormal angulation
of the Knee:
Over time, the shape and structure of the knee may change. Some people may become knock-kneed or bow-legged. Keeping the affected joint still and avoiding moving it may allow the muscles surrounding the joint to become weaker and shrink. This will result in a loss of flexibility and movement.
of the Hip:
Limping is common. Sometimes there is pain around the groin or inner thigh. The affected leg may appear shorter in cases of osteoarthritis of the hip. It will become more difficult to put on your shoes and tying the laces will become hard, if not impossible over time.
in the Fingers:
Bone spurs occur frequently in these joints. Spurs in the end joints of fingers are called Heberden's Nodes, which occur most often in women and sometimes as early as 40. Spurs in the middle joints of the fingers are called Bouchard's Nodes. These nodes are extremely painful and greatly limit movement.
in the Spine:
Because the spine is the weight bearing column of the body, osteoarthrits of the spine causes intense discomfort when standing and absorbing shocks as when running or jogging. Osteoarthritis of the spine is not as common as osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, but like osteoarthritis in the hip or knee, it commonly results from an injury to the spine.