Each type of arthritis has different symptoms. 


Osteoarthritis affects only your joints, usually the hands, knees, hips, or spine. However, any injured joint can develop osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. The joint stiffness gets worse after a period of sitting still and gets better fairly quickly when you start moving. As it progresses, your joints may become damaged and deformed.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

With rheumatoid arthritis, you are more likely to experience warmth and redness along with pain and swelling in the affected joints. Eventually, the cartilage and bone are badly damaged and the joint may become severely deformed. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis have long periods of joint stiffness in the mornings (over 30 minutes). You may also have a rash and fever and feel generally ill.


Gout is a type of arthritis that usually only affects one or a few joints. It usually affects the big toe or ankle, but can impact other joint such as the knee, wrist, or shoulder. Gout flares usually happen suddenly, often starting at night and reaching the worst pain within one day of the pain onset. They typically will resolve in 7-10 days, even without treatment. If you are having an attack of gout, you may also have a fever.

Warning Signs

The following are warning signs that you may be developing arthritis:

  • Pain, swelling, or tenderness in one or more joints
  • Cracking or crunching sounds with movement
  • Stiffness, especially morning stiffness or stiffness after rest
  • Warmth or redness in the joints
  • Bony knobs that appear on the joints of the fingers
  • Reduced range of motion (a decrease in how much you can move the joint in all directions)

Rheumatoid arthritis has some particular additional signs, such as:

  • Anemia (low numbers of red blood cells)
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Inflammation in other places such as blood vessels or the lining of the lungs or the heart
  • Joints on both sides of the body affected at the same time (for example, both ankles or both wrists)
  • General fatigue, fevers, feeling sick, weight loss—especially when it starts in an older person

You may feel arthritis pain and other symptoms in unexpected areas. For example, if you feel tingling, weakness, or numbness in your arms or legs, you may have arthritis of the spine. This can put pressure on the nerves coming out from your spinal cord, sometimes even affecting bladder or bowel function. In the same way, arthritis in your hip may be felt as pain in your groin, buttocks, inner thigh, or knees.


Last Updated August 2020