Do you have achy joints that don’t move the way they used to? You may be experiencing the beginning signs of arthritis.
Arthritis is a painful inflammation of the joints, and there are more than 100 different types of this chronic condition. The most common is osteoarthritis (OA), which affects more than 30 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
OA occurs when the cartilage and bones within a joint begin to break down. The risk of developing OA increases with age, but even adults in their 20s and 30s can develop the condition. No matter your age, it’s never too early to start thinking about your bone and joint health. Here are five signs of arthritis to watch out for.
1. Evening Joint Pain
Does joint pain keep you up at night? You’re not alone. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 70 percent of people with osteoarthritis have trouble sleeping. Being on your feet all day can lead to soreness because arthritic joints don’t have a lot of cartilage to serve as a cushion.
Because getting a good night’s sleep can help improve your ability to manage the pain, try these tips:
Avoid alcohol and caffeine a few hours before bed.
Turn your bedroom into a sleep haven by keeping it cool and dark.
Unplug by turning off your computer, phones and TV at least an hour before bed.
If pain persists in keeping you awake, speak with your doctor.
2. Morning Stiffness
While stiffness of the joints is normal when you wake up in the morning, it could also be a sign of early OA if it persists throughout the day. If you’re experiencing morning stiffness, resist the urge to stay in bed. Just go through your daily routine. You are likely to feel better once you’ve warmed up your joints. If your daily routine includes gentle exercise, that’s even better. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help reduce pain. If the pain continues or inhibits your ability to continue normal activities, you need to discuss the symptoms with your doctor.
3. Reduced Range of Motion
If you find it difficult to lift your knees, stand up or twist your upper body, it could be a sign of OA. A reduced range of motion often begins in the hips and knees, and could eventually move to the shoulders and spine. Your doctor may suggest range-of-motion exercises like stretching to help relieve symptoms and protect joints from further damage.
OA can cause your joints to swell, so watch out for swelling at the ends of your fingers (closest to the nails), as well as in your hips, knees, lower back, neck and thumbs. Schedule a visit with your doctor if you are experiencing swollen joints. If there is no pain, it could be OA. But if you’re experiencing any redness or warmth, it could be rheumatoid arthritis.
To find an orthopedist, call Tanner’s free, 24-hour physician referral line at 678.582.2891 or select “Find a Doctor” at tanner.org. For more information about orthopedic services at Tanner, visit TannerOrtho.org.
Carrollton Orthopaedic Clinic has locations in Bremen, Carrollton and Villa Rica. For more information, visit CarrolltonOrtho.com or call 770-834-0873.