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We all have aches and pains here and there. Maybe you’re sore after the gym. Maybe your wrist is aching after spending the entire day typing away at your computer. Or maybe your joints are just randomly in pain.

These subtle aches and pains are normal and even expected. But when the pain turns from sporadic and subtle to frequent and painful, it could be an indication of something more serious.

Consistent pain and stiffness in the joints is a sign of arthritis. Arthritis is not something to take lightly, and it can have a huge impact on your daily life, affecting an estimated 54.4 million Americans. With arthritis, getting out-and-about and doing your daily life tasks becomes a lot more difficult, so it’s important to find the proper course of treatment.

An estimated 54.4 million US adults suffer from arthritis.

In this blog post, we’ll be discussing how to know if you have arthritis, the causes of arthritis, how arthritis is diagnosed, potential treatment plans, and more. Continue reading to learn how you can go about treating your arthritis so you can go back to living a pain-free and healthy life.

Signs and Symptoms

If you’re wondering why you’re waking up with shoulder pain, it could be because of arthritis. Arthritis can make you feel like you just slept wrong when in reality it’s something much more serious.

But how can you tell if you have arthritis?

You have to look out for specific signs and symptoms. Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. But the aching feeling from arthritis can easily be confused with other conditions, which is why it’s important to keep track of your symptoms so you can inform your doctor.

Symptoms of arthritis infographic

Arthritis symptoms differ for everyone, but here are a few signs that could indicate that you have arthritis:

  • Pain: Arthritis pain can either be consistent or it can come and go. It can affect one or multiple parts of the body. It can also happen while at rest or while moving. The intensity of arthritis pain ultimately depends on the individual.
  • Stiffness: If you have arthritis, you’ll likely experience stiffness throughout the day. This feeling will be most present right when you wake up or when you sit down for a long period of time. If your stiffness persists for longer than an hour, it’s likely a sign of arthritis.
  • Swelling:Certain types of arthritis can cause swelling in the affected area. The affected area will be red, raised, and warm to the touch. If your swelling persists for longer than three days, see a doctor.
  • Difficulty moving joints:If you have arthritis, you may experience a decreased range of movement. For example, you may have a hard time getting up when you’re sitting down.

Arthritis can affect almost any joint, but it’s most common in the fingers, hands, and feet. If you’re wondering how to know if you have arthritis in your hand, you’ll likely experience pain in the fingers, wrists, and thumbs, as well as numbness and stiffness in the fingers.

Arthritis can also impact the knees and ankles. Not sure how to know if you have arthritis in your knee? Symptoms of knee arthritis typically include swelling or tenderness, cracking or popping sounds, loss of joint space, and deformities in the knee.

If you’re curious how to know if you have arthritis in your ankle, there are a few key symptoms you should look out for. If you have arthritis in your ankle, you’ll likely experience tenderness when you touch the joint, pain when you move your ankle, and trouble walking and putting weight on your feet.

If you suffer from arthritis in any of these areas, consult your doctor as soon as possible so that you can find the proper course of treatment.

Causes and Risk Factors

There are two different types of arthritis that you can have: osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis involves the gradual wear and tear of a joint’s cartilage. Cartilage protects the ends of our bones and allows us to move our joints comfortably. But with enough damage to our cartilage, our bones can end up grinding on each other, resulting in pain and loss of motion. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips, and spine. One of the most common shoulder pain causes is osteoarthritis.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, including the joints. This causes the lining of the joints to become inflamed and swollen. If this goes untreated, it can end up destroying the cartilage and bone within the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis mostly affects the joints in the hands, wrists, and knees.

While the exact cause of arthritis is generally unknown, certain factors can make an individual more at risk. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Age:The risk of developing any type of arthritis increases the older you get.
  • Sex: Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while men are more likely to get gout, which is another type of arthritis that causes tenderness in joints.
  • Infection:Certain infections, such as psoriasis and lupus, can lead to arthritis.
  • Weight: People with obesity are more at risk of developing arthritis because of the excess stress put on their knees, hips, and spine.
  • Injuries:If you’ve injured a joint in the past, due to sports or an accident, you’re more likely to develop arthritis in that joint.
  • Family history:Certain types of arthritis run in families.
  • Work-related injuries:If you have a job that requires frequent heavy lifting or repetitive movements that put stress on your joints, you’re more susceptible to developing arthritis.

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

In order to get a proper arthritis diagnosis, you should keep track of your symptoms for a few weeks before going to a doctor. Keep note of what is stiff and swollen, how long the pain lasts, and what triggers the pain. Having an idea of your symptoms will give your doctor a better idea about treatment. During your appointment, you and your doctor will discuss your medical history as well as your signs and symptoms.

How is arthritis diagnosed

There are various ways arthritis can be diagnosed, such as:

  • Physical exam: During the physical exam, your doctor will check your swollen joints for redness, tenderness, warmth, or loss of motion.
  • X-ray: An X-ray will tell you what kind of arthritis you have. X-rays are used to diagnose osteoarthritis, as they can show a loss of cartilage or bone spurs.
  • Joint fluid testing: In some cases, your doctor will test the fluid in your joints. This will help to differentiate osteoarthritis from other types.
  • Blood or urine testing: Blood or urine tests can help your doctor identify exactly what type of arthritis you have. For example, someone with rheumatoid arthritis will likely have antibodies called rheumatoid factors in their blood.


Dealing with arthritis is painful and tiring, but fortunately, there are various ways to treat it. Some of the arthritis treatment methods include:

  • Occupational therapy: With occupational therapy, you’ll learn easier ways to do your normal tasks. You’ll learn how to avoid certain positions that strain your joints and how to use your stronger muscles rather than your affected ones. You may need to wear a brace to support your joints or use a walker.
  • Medicine: Medication can help to reduce inflammation and improve range of motion in the affected joints. Your doctor will probably prescribe you acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to help decrease inflammation. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may suggest corticosteroid joint injections which can relieve pain and stiffness. Additional drugs may be prescribed to individuals with rheumatoid arthritis to improve joint function.
  • Surgery: In more severe cases, surgery may be needed in order to restore joint movement and alleviate discomfort. These surgeries can include knee and hip joint replacements. Sometimes, spinal surgery is needed for neck and lower spine arthritis.
  • Non-medical treatment: In some cases, non-medical treatment has proven beneficial to relieving arthritis pain. This includes relaxation techniques with the goal to improve a patient’s emotional health. Cognitive therapy can also be used to relax and distract the brain. If you’re looking for shoulder pain relief, consider MedCline. MedCline carries a Shoulder Relief System that may help alleviate shoulder pain due to arthritis.

Man who suffers from arthritis grips aching knee.

Wrapping Up

Arthritis is no joke. It’s an extremely painful and uncomfortable condition that makes living life a whole lot more difficult. A few aches and pains is one thing, but pain that’s unbearable and persists for long periods of time is something way more serious. So if you suspect you’re suffering from arthritis, consult with your doctor so that you can figure out the proper course of treatment.

If your arthritis is impacting your quality of sleep, check out MedCline. MedCline carries various products that can help alleviate arthritis symptoms by providing you with the support you need while you sleep. MedCline’s uniquely designed pillows form to your body, so you can sleep comfortably and pain-free.