Many people live with joint pain on a regular basis and just assume they’re getting arthritis, but not all joint pain is caused by arthritis, and not all joint pain (or arthritis) is treated in the same way. That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms so your doctor can correctly identify and treat what is wrong with you, rather than treat you incorrectly and find the correct diagnosis later.

Joint pain is the most common known symptom of arthritis. The pain can be mild to severe, and is generally persistent. While it may be worse when you stand, walk, run or perform other activities, this doesn’t mean it goes away when you’re resting. In addition to being painful, arthritic joints tend to become swollen, red and inflamed. While the pain and swelling are generally just an inconvenience to begin with, if arthritis is not treated they can become severe and severely limit your physical activity.

Some arthritis causes bones to actually build up. This causes pain, but will also begin to deform your joints, particularly if it’s in the fingers and hands. You may notice hard lumps start to grow on the sides of fingers or other affected joints.

Another common symptom of arthritis is the loss of range of motion. You may not be able to bend a joint as far as you used to because of pain or swelling. While minor loss of range of motion can be mildly annoying, if they symptoms get worse it can begin to affect your daily life and activities.

There are other less common symptoms associated with arthritis that have little to nothing to do with the joints themselves. People with certain types of arthritis can experience fever, fatigue, mood problems and weight loss.

Most people are surprised to find out there are over 100 different types of arthritis. Plus, even if two people have the same kind, they will probably have somewhat different symptoms. For proper arthritis diagnosis, you should always see your doctor.

When you visit your doctor, she will likely take a history of your symptoms, perform a physical exam, and perform x-rays and other tests to confirm the diagnosis, but also to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

While many people can treat minor arthritis with over-the-counter medication, you should still see a physician to make sure it isn’t something more serious. They can also help recommend what kind of medication or other therapy would be best for your specific case.

Simply living with arthritis is not something you have to do. While arthritis is not curable, there are many treatments to manage the pain, but also to slow progression and treat the underlying cause of the problem.

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