When most people talk about arthritis, they’re referring to general pain in the joints. But they don’t realize that arthritis is merely a broad term for more than 100 unique conditions that affect your joints. Some are more common than others, with the two most prevalent being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Here at Roswell Pain and Weight Loss Specialists, Dr. Damon Christian Kimes cares for arthritic patients throughout the greater Roswell, Georgia, area and helps them find real pain relief from their progressive condition.
Although each type of arthritis has unique characteristics, all types involve inflammation of the joints. In the early stages, it may be difficult to know if you have the onset of arthritis or aches and pain related to another condition or injury. If you think you might be one of the more than 54 million Americans with arthritis, here are some telltale signs that will let you know.
1. Tender, achy, or painful joints
Many illnesses and injuries can make your joints hurt. To narrow the source down to arthritis, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did the pain come on suddenly or gradually?
- Have I injured the area recently?
- Does it hurt all the time or only sometimes?
- Does physical activity tend to make it better?
Arthritis pain usually comes on gradually. It’s typically worse in the morning and gets better when you start moving around throughout the day. Rheumatoid arthritis, caused by an autoimmune disorder that keeps your joints constantly inflamed, makes your joints feel tender to the touch.
2. Stiff, immobile joints
Because arthritis attacks the tissues in your joints, including the lining and cartilage, you may have two bones rubbing against one another. Without the protective tissues that offer a slippery surface, your joints may lock up or refuse to function smoothly. You’ll notice a definite decrease in your range of motion in that joint.
3. Warm, red skin
As part of the healing process whenever you’re injured, your body sends blood to the region, because it carries critical growth factors and other healing properties. That’s what causes immediate swelling when you sprain an ankle or cut your finger.
But perpetual inflammation is counterproductive. Signs of chronic swelling include red skin that’s warm to the touch. If it doesn’t go away, it may indicate a bacterial or fungal infection. Dr. Kimes runs a few tests to determine whether the symptom is caused by arthritis or another underlying condition.
Fever is such a nonspecific symptom, it’s often overlooked as an indicator of arthritis. But chronic inflammation, a signature symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, can cause a constant low-grade fever.
5. Fatigue and malaise
If you suffer from arthritis and any of the symptoms listed above over time, it wears on your body, mind, and spirit. Many of our patients describe feeling generally unwell, but they’re unable to give it a specific name or cause.
Even if you sleep well and eat a healthy diet, you may feel constantly fatigued if you have arthritis, because it takes a toll on your system.
Get a professional diagnosis
Although these symptoms are all present with arthritis, they don’t definitively diagnose you. Only a trained medical professional like Dr. Kimes can do that. He uses X-rays and CT scans to either pinpoint your arthritis or rule it out.
If you don’t have arthritis, he gets to the bottom of your pain and other symptoms so he can identify and treat the underlying cause.
Living with arthritis
There’s no cure for arthritis, but there are ways to manage your pain and other symptoms. Dr. Kimes works together with you and delves into your health history, lifestyle, and activity level to determine the best course of action for treating your arthritis.
Some patients need to change their diet, others need to exercise more or modify their current routine. Some benefit from pain medications or steroid injections, while others get relief from physical therapy. Even hormone replacement therapy has been shown to improve some arthritis symptoms.
If you think you might have arthritis, it’s time to know for sure, so you can get started on treatment to help slow the progression. If you've been living with arthritis for years, Dr. Kimes can help you get much-needed relief, so you can be active and pain free. Call us or book an appointment online for our Roswell, Georgia, office today.