About 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from arthritis. This condition does not affect adults alone. About 300,000 children are also afflicted with it. Arthritis is really more than just the inflammation of the joints. It can also affect other areas of the body, including muscles, tendons, bones and your body’s internal organs.
People who wonder about arthritis often ask, “What does arthritis feel like?” Most of the time, there is pain. The pain is usually chronic, which means that it can last from weeks at a time to a lifetime, and it can vary in intensity.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and it results from the wear and tear on your joint cartilage. It is more common among older people, but the young can develop it as well. The pain usually starts gradually, and it gets worse as you use the joint repeatedly. The joint feels better after you rest it. Also, you may feel stiff in the morning, but the stiffness lasts less than 30 minutes.
Sometimes the affected joint can lock up. This restricts your mobility and prevents that joint from achieving full range of motion. You may hear your affected joint crackling as you bend it. This is caused by the cartilage in the joint space wearing down.
What does arthritis feel like if it is located at the hip joints? If your arthritis affects your hip joints, you may feel pain on your hip, radiating down your groin area to your thighs. It can affect your walking.
What about arthritis on your hands? You may feel the usual joint pain, stiffness and swelling around certain joints on your hand: the finger joint that is closest to your finger nail; the middle joint of your finger; and the joint between the base of your thumb and your wrist. The pain around your thumb can be especially intense and deep, especially when you try to grip or open anything like a jar.
When the weather changes, you may feel joint pain more intensely. This may be due to the change in barometric pressure pushing against your body and joints.
What does arthritis feel like if it is rheumatoid arthritis? With rheumatoid arthritis, you feel pain and swelling in your limbs on both sides of your body, especially in the morning. This pain can last for more than an hour. There is stiffness after you wake up and also after you sit for a while. You may experience swelling on your wrists and knuckles. Some muscles around the affected joint may have gotten weaker.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause you to feel tired all the time. This level of fatigue takes away energy from you so you do not feel like doing any activities. This type of arthritis is not caused by wear and tear of the joints, but by something triggering the immune system to attack the joints, possibly from genetics, hormonal or environmental reasons.