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Osteoarthritis Symptoms


Symptoms of osteoarthritis include the following:

  • Pain in the joint
  • Most commonly affected joints are those of the knee, hip, hand, or spine
  • Pain usually increases when the joint is used or stressed
  • Pain is usually decreased by resting the joint
  • May be described as a dull, achy pain or a sharper, stabbing sensation
  • Stiffness
  • Stiffness can make everyday activities difficult, such as leaning down to pick something up, putting on shoes, opening a jar, walking, or climbing stairs.
  • Stiffness occurs first thing in the morning is common, usually lasting under 30 minutes after you resume activity.
  • Stiffness after any period of inactivity is common (such as after sitting still for a couple of hours in a movie theater or on an airplane).
  • Stiffness decreases your range of motion, so that you can’t bend or unbend a joint as far as you normally could.
  • You may have a feeling of instability in the joint. For example, your knee may feel as if it is going to buckle underneath you.
  • You may feel or hear a grating or creaking sound when you bend or unbend your joint.
  • Your joint may develop an abnormal appearance:
  • It may appear inflamed, red, swollen.
  • It may appear misaligned or misshapen.



Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: .

Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2000.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: .

Manek NJ, Lane NE. Osteoarthritis: current concepts in diagnosis and management. American Family Physician. 2000;51(6). Available at: