Arthritis symptoms

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

The symptoms of arthritis depend largely upon the type of arthritis that a person has.

Since there are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis, symptoms are highly variable.

Also, since arthritis is often a systemic condition, there are multiple symptoms that aren’t necessarily associated with joint pain. These may be both helpful as well as confusing when it comes to diagnosis.

The cardinal symptoms and signs of arthritis when there is joint involvement are:

• Swelling
• Redness
• Heat
• Pain

Pain is the most common symptom and is found with almost all forms of arthritis. The pain can be dull and aching such as the pain of fibromyalgia... or it may be sharp and stabbing as the pain associated with tendonitis. It may occur intermittently such as the pain of osteoarthritis or it may be constant such as the pain associated with malignancy and metastases. Sometimes the pain is localized; other times it is more generalized. Sometimes the pain is relieved by rest such as the pain due to bursitis or it can be relieved by movement such as the stiffness-associated pain of ankylosing spondylitis.

Some types of arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia may also have fatigue as a prominent symptom.

Other types of more serious arthritis such as adult-onset Still’s disease, rheumatic fever, viral arthritis, septic arthritis, vasculitis, lupus, and crystal-induced forms of arthritis such as gout may have fever as a common symptom. Fever can also occur with temporal arteritis.

Morning stiffness is a significant symptom found with rheumatoid arthritis. Morning stiffness in the low back is a particularly striking symptom in spondyloarthropathies such as ankylosing spondylitis.

Rashes may occur with arthritis. Examples are: lupus, dermatomyositis, rheumatic fever, psoriasis, Adult-onset Still's disease, gonococcal arthritis, and Lyme disease.

Myalgias (muscle aches) are a common feature of conditions such as hypothyroidism, serum sickness, vasculitis, polymyalgia rheumatica, fibromyalgia, viral arthritis, drug-induced conditions (statin cholesterol-lowering drugs), lymphoma, and inflammatory muscle disease. Patients being treated with bisphosphonate drugs for osteoporosis can also develop what is caused an "acute phase reaction" where aches and pains are accompanied by fatigue, malaise, and even fever.

Sometimes numbness and tingling in an arm or leg can point towards an underlying arthritic condition such as nerve root irritation from osteoarthritis affecting the spine or peripheral nerve compression from entrapment neuropathies such as carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar nerve entrapment, or tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Weight loss may be seen in many forms of inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. By the same token excessive weight can be seen in patients with gout, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia.

Eye symptoms occur in lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, the various spondyloarthopathies, vasculitis, temporal arteritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome. Eye involvement can present as eye irritation, inflammation of parts of the eye, or blindness.

Oral ulcerations can be seen in lupus, Reiter’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, syphilis, Behcet’s disease, and as a consequence of drug therapy (methotrexate).

Sores affecting the genital region can be seen in Behcet’s disease, Reiter’s syndrome, psoriasis, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

Tightening of the skin is a symptom found in conditions such as scleroderma, CREST syndrome, thyroid disease, and diabetes.

Nail abnormalities are noted in psoriatic arthritis, Reiter’s disease, vasculitis, endocarditis, dermatomyositis (nailbed)and malignancies.

Blanching of the fingers and toes (Raynaud’s phenomenon) is a common symptom seen in scleroderma, MCTD, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, and inflammatory muscle disease.

Sausage fingers and toes are seen in Reiter’s disease and psoriatic arthritis and to a lesser extent in scleroderma, sarcoidosis, and sickle cell anemia.

Bowel irritation is a cardinal symptom of inflammatory bowel disease but can also occur with psoriatic arthritis. It can also be a side effect of many arthritis drugs.

Low back pain is a particularly common symptom with osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, ankylosing spondylitis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple myeloma, osteoporosis with compression fracture, Reiter’s disease, diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH), osteomyelitis (an infection in the spine), metastatic cancer, tuberculosis, and spinal stenosis. Low back pain can be referred from an aortic aneurysm.

While shoulder pain can be caused by a primary shoulder issue such as tendonitis, it can also be caused by a cervical spine problem radiating to the shoulder. Pain in the shoulder blade region can be due to gall bladder disease.

Heel pain is often seen in patients with the spondyloarthropathies (psoriatic arthritis, Reiter’s syndrome, and ankylosing spondylitis), osteoarthritis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and as a complication of therapies such as retinoid therapy. Antibiotic treatment with quinilone antibiotics can cause tendon damage and even tendon rupture.

Get more information about arthritis and related conditions as well as...

• Insider arthritis tips that help you erase the pain and fatigue of rheumatoid arthritis almost overnight!

• Devastating ammunition against low back pain... discover 9 secrets!

• Ignored remedies that eliminate fibromyalgia symptoms quickly!

• Obsolete treatments for knee osteoarthritis that still are used... and may still work for you!

• The stiff penalties you face if you ignore this type of hip pain...

• 7 easy-to-implement neck pain remedies that work like a charm!

• And much more...

Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Return to arthritis home page.

Return to arthritis home page.

Copyright (c) 2004 - All Rights Reserved

How to Beat Arthritis! Get our FREE monthly Ezine and get your life back!

Enter your E-mail Address
Enter your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Insider Arthritis Tips.