What Does Arthritis Feel Like?

Aug 24, 2018 | Arthritis, Osteoarthritis

Understanding Your Joint Pain

As the most prevalent chronic condition in America, arthritis is most commonly understood as an inflammation of the joints you often experience as you age. The condition typically manifests when your bones rub together more than they should, and your likelihood of developing it depends upon age your genetics, biology, lifestyle, and environmental situation.

What you might not realize is there are over 100 different possible versions of arthritis, each with its own specific markers, symptoms, and ways it can impact your body. However, when it comes to describing what arthritis feels like, you can generally look to the two primary forms of the condition for answers.


This version of arthritis arises when the cartilage that typically encases your joints and prevents them from rubbing together slowly begins to disappear through years of contact. And while it a slow-moving disease that you can combat with exercise, improving your health, and a range of treatments, your bones directly rub against each other. Osteoarthritis simply hurts

That pain can be described in several ways:

Joint Pain

Osteoarthritis typically doesn’t appear across every joint in your body all at once. It usually starts in one joint at a time, depending upon the stress you put upon your body. You will feel aches deep in the affected joints, pain that won’t go away without long periods of rest. It’s also a pain that can lie dormant until you engage in too much activity with the affected joint, and then it starts radiating out into your entire body, especially your buttocks, thighs, and groin.

Joint Stiffness

This is the creakiness you might feel when you wake up or sit still for too long. Thankfully, it does go away after you use your joint again, but it can also affect your gait because of the sharpness you feel in that joint once you start moving.

Joint Deformity

Depending upon how bad your osteoarthritis becomes, your joints could start changing shape and impacting how you move, which doubles the pain you feel. On one hand, you will experience shooting pains in the joints themselves, and on the other, your body will hurt because you won’t be able to move like you used to do. For example, arthritis in your hands will cause the joints in your fingers enlarge from the friction, while knee arthritis can lead to swelling that causes you to start walking bowlegged.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Often referred to as RA, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune disorder that directly attacks your joints, resulting in painful inflammation. People who suffer from the disease report symptoms ranging from feeling flu-ish all the time, complete with all-over aching, to direct joint pain that gets worse with movement. In that way, RA can seem like the inverse of osteoarthritis, and its resulting pains can often be much more debilitating.

Joint Swelling

While osteoarthritis can create localized swelling, RA inflammation can cause all your joints to swell, making it very painful to move at all for long periods of time. This can regularly include those swollen joints to radiate with heat from the inside out.

Joint Stiffness

The same applies here – osteoarthritis stiffness can be treated with exercise, but joint stiffness from RA can cause your joints to lock up completely, creating pain that courses from your joints and throughout the rest of your body.

Trouble at Your Extremities

Because RA can impact your entire body, it can be especially felt in your hands and feet. Common sensations include the tingling that comes from carpal tunnel syndrome or the painful swelling in the feet from plantar fasciitis.

Whether your arthritis is in the Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis family, the pain you feel will always start with deep-set aches in your joints and move from there. Depending upon your specific arthritis diagnosis, it can radiate, throb, or be shooting in nature, which means your treatments for the pain can differ. We will always recommend paying a visit to your doctor to determine the cause of your joint pain. You want it attended to as quickly and professionally as possible, because no one enjoys having their mobility curtailed from joint pain.

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