What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

Most people don't wake up one day and suddenly have symptoms of osteoarthritis. Instead, the signs usually come on more gradually. At first, you may start to notice that your joints, such as your knees, feel stiff when you get out of bed in the morning or after you sit for a long time. You may have trouble opening jars or fastening buttons because your fingers are swollen. Or you may notice your elbow doesn't move as smoothly through your backhand in tennis. This soreness and stiffness may later become pain that gets more persistent or worse as the day goes on. Joints may swell or produce a crunching sensation when you move.
Christopher Chiodo, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
  • Pain in the morning that may gradually recede but returns at the end of the day
  • Pain that is alleviated by resting the affected joint
  • Stiffness in the affected joint
Pain in your joints is the most common symptom of osteoarthritis. It usually is worst in the weight bearing joints (knees, ankles, feet), but the hands are also commonly affected. Swelling is another common complaint.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Osteoarthritis is an affliction of the joints, such as the knees, shoulders and hips. The condition makes joints painful, stiff and tender to the touch. Some other conditions can cause mild or severe joint pain too, such as rheumatoid arthritis. But you'll have a good idea that your joint discomfort has been brought on by osteoarthritis when:

  • It's worse when you wake up, but gradually improves as the morning progresses.
  • It's worse after you've been sitting or you've remained in one position (such as crouching) for a long time.
  • It's worse after you have been physically active, but improves after you rest.
  • Your joints are swollen, but not red or hot.

If any of these symptoms sound altogether too familiar, see your doctor soon. 

Continue Learning about Osteoarthritis

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.