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What Are Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis?
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Symptoms of arthritis include limited function and pain in the joints. Inflammation of the joints from arthritis is characterized by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, and warmth. Tenderness of the inflamed joint can be present. Loss of range of motion and deformity can result. Certain forms of arthritis can also be associated with pain and inflammation of tendons surrounding joints. Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the knees, hips, fingers, wrists, ankles, feet, back, and neck. The pain may be intermittent or constant. Some types of arthritis cause acute episodes of symptoms (flare-ups).
Some forms of arthritis are more of an annoyance than a serious medical problem. However, millions of people suffer daily with pain and disability from arthritis or its complications. Moreover, many of the forms of arthritis, because they are rheumatic diseases, can cause symptoms affecting various organs of the body that do not directly involve the joints. Therefore, signs and symptoms in some patients with certain forms of arthritis can also include fever, gland swelling, weight loss, fatigue, feeling unwell (malaise), and even symptoms from abnormalities of organs such as the lungs, heart, or kidneys.
When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for Arthritis?
If joint pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, loss of motion or deformity occurs, medical evaluation by a health care professional is warranted. Even minor joint symptoms that persist unexplained for over one week should be evaluated. For many forms of arthritis, it is essential that patients have an early evaluation as it is clear that this can both prevent damage and disability as well as make optimal treatment easier.
What Specialists Treat Arthritis?
Primary care physicians such as internists, family practice doctors, and general practitioners frequently diagnose and treat common musculoskeletal conditions and straightforward cases of arthritis. Rheumatologists are specialists in the more than 100 different types of arthritis and have great expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis, from straightforward to complex cases. Orthopedists (also known as orthopedic surgeons) commonly treat arthritis, especially when surgical management is necessary. Other medical specialists who may be involved in the treatment of arthritis include physical therapists and occupational therapists.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/30/2017
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