Arthritis is an informal way of referring to more than 100 types of joint diseases. Symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints.
As there are many types of arthritis, there's also a wide range of symptoms. With inflammatory arthritis there’s likely to be more swelling in your joints and more variation in the level of pain (which can't be explained simply by the level of physical activity). Other common symptoms include early morning joint stiffness, tiredness, a general feeling of being unwell, weight loss, mild fevers and skin rashes. But remember these symptoms aren’t specific to arthritis and can be caused by other illnesses.
Should you See a Doctor?
It’s common to experience aches and pains in your muscles and joints from time to time, particularly if you take part in unusual or strenuous physical activities. So how can you distinguish the early signs of arthritis from ‘normal’ pain and stiffness? And how do you know when you should see your doctor about your symptoms?
If the pain developed after a spell of unusual exercise or activity you may have just overdone it a bit, and the pain should ease within a few days. However, you should seek advice from your doctor if any of the following apply to you:
- The pain isn't linked to an injury or persists for longer than a week
- Your joint has become swollen, and isn't linked to an injury
- You also feel unwell or have a fever
- You’re unable to do your everyday tasks due to joint or muscle pain
- Your back hurts after lifting something heavy, and taking painkillers, applying heat and trying to stay active for a day or so hasn’t helped
- You experience swelling, stiffness or a painful ‘squeeze’ in your joints
The earlier you get diagnosed the better the outcome, so don't delay seeing your doctor if there's no obvious reason for the pain.
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