Is pain the biggest symptom of osteoarthritis (OA)?

Geraldine M. Navarro, MD
Pain is the biggest symptom of osteoarthritis (OA). The first indicator of OA is usually pain that is exacerbated by activity and relieved by rest. When the arthritis becomes worse, even small amounts of activity can cause pain. There may also be stiffness, swelling and a worsening of symptoms with changes in the weather. People with OA may experience weakness due to pain and swelling, as well as cracking or crunching in the joints.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Pain is the biggest symptom of osteoarthritis (OA) because it's the one that really gets your attention. But for many people, pain isn't the first symptom they have of OA. Before they feel pain, they may experience joint stiffness and swelling and they may lose their range of motion.

Eventually, the damage to the cartilage in the joint from osteoarthritis causes pain, which sends you to your doctor. By then, you find that your OA is already pretty far along. If you notice any symptoms of osteoarthritis before you start feeling pain, talk to your doctor. The sooner you start treating OA with exercise, weight loss and, if necessary, drugs, the sooner you'll begin preventing further joint damage.

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Pain may or may not be the biggest symptom of osteoarthritis. This can vary from person to person. Pain certainly plays a large role in the detection of osteoarthritis. But because pain can also occur from many other diseases, syndromes, or conditions, only a doctor can properly diagnose osteoarthritis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.