Each type of arthritis has different symptoms. 


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

Joints are painful, swell, and get stiff. The stiffness is worse when a person doesn’t move and gets better fairly quickly when a person starts moving. Joints may become damaged and deformed over time.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This type of arthritis causes some joints to be warm, red, painful, and swollen. The cartilage and bone become badly damaged and the joint may become deformed over time.

Many people with rheumatoid arthritis have:

  • Periods of joint stiffness in the mornings that last longer than 30 minutes
  • Rash and fever
  • A feeling of being sick


Gout is a type of arthritis usually only affecting one or a few joints. Often the joints are in the big toe or ankle. Other joints include the knee, wrist, or shoulder.  Older adults are more likely to have gout in these larger joints

Gout flares usually happen suddenly. They often start at night. The worst pain happens within one day. Gout usually goes away in up to 10 days, even without treatment. A person may also have a fever.

Infectious Arthritis

This type of arthritis occurs when an infection spreads into a joint, usually affecting one or a few joints.

Warning Signs

Signs of arthritis are:

  • 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 the joint can move)

Rheumatoid arthritis has 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)
  • General fatigue, fevers, feeling sick
  • Weight loss—especially when it starts in an older person

A person may feel arthritis pain and other symptoms in unexpected areas.

  • Tingling, weakness, or numbness in arms or legs may mean arthritis of the spine. This can put pressure on the nerves coming out from the spinal cord. Sometimes this type of arthritis affects bladder or bowel function.
  • Pain in the groin, buttocks, inner thigh, or knees can mean arthritis in the hip.

Last Updated April 2023

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