Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Described and Explained

You have Osteoarthritis Symptoms for a reason. One or more reasons, actually.

You doctor doesn't know why you hurt, but YOU should know.  If you don't know why your osteo arthritis symptoms exist, then how can you make those symptoms go away?

First we'll list the symptoms, then we'll describe each one, and then we'll explain what exactly is causing it.

One of the symptoms of osteoarthritis is fear, fear that it's going to get worse and there's nothing you can do about it.  But I promise you, that fear only exists because you don't yet know how to make the pain and problem lessen or get better.

What Are The Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis?

If you google 'osteoarthritis symptoms' or some variation of that, you'll mostly get webpages that have a list of possible symptoms, but that's about the extent of the content.  You won't learn much more than that list of symptoms.

There's nothing wrong with lists, but other than helping you identify a possible diagnosis for yourself, it doesn't give you any access to understand what the problem is or what to do about it.  

That's what this page is for.

But first, here's a list of some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis:

  • joint pain in one or more joints
  • joint ache
  • burning sensation in joint(s)
  • grinding sensation in joint(s)
  • joint popping
  • reduced range of joint motion
  • tight or swollen sensation
  • reduced ability to use body part due to pain or other symptoms
  • related muscle ache or pain or weakness
  • tingling and/or numbness
  • joint deformation

Ta da, there's a list of osteoarthritis symptoms!

Now let's get you some information that's actually valuable.

Each Osteoarthritis Symptom Explained

Here we give more depth to each osteoarthritis symptom and give you some idea of what those osteoarthritis symptoms might look like.

Joint Pain In One Or More Joints

This pain can be mild, moderate, or severe.  The pain can be there 24/7, can just come and go, or can only hurt when you use the affected joint.

The pain can be a dull pain, or sharp.  It can be in a very specific point, or it can feel like the entire joint hurts.  

The pain can be throbbing, or can be constant.

Each of these different variations are very important clues as to what exactly is going on in there.

Joint Ache

Ache doesn't qualify as pain.  Ache is more like you're just kind of aware of your joints, and you know it's not feeling right. (I was going to say that 'it's not feeling normal', but you can have ache for years, so it becomes the new normal.)

Just like the behaviors of osteoarthritis joint pain, joint ache can be mild moderate or severe, can be constant or come and go, can be part of the joint or the entire joint, throbbing or constant.

Again, this sensation is a big clue as to what's going on with the joint.

Burning Sensation In Joint(s)

Burning sensation in the joints can be mild, moderate, or severe.  It can be constant or can come and go.  This burning can last all day, or just for a few hours.  It can flare up with use, or it can just start all on it's own even when you're resting.

This burning sensation can spread out from your joint any distance.

Grinding Sensation In Joint(s)

This grinding sensation can be very light, or it can be really gritty, like there's really some grinding going on.

This can be 'squeaky', or it can be like dragging a bear trap across gravel.

Joint Popping

This can be like cracking your knuckles, or any variation of that.  Big crack, little tiny pop, anything in between.

There can be a 'catch' where you are bending, say, a finger, and it comes to a stop and then 'pops' and continues

Tight or Swollen Sensation

There can be a feeling like the joint is enlarged, or swollen, and this creates a 'tight' feeling in the joint itself. Like the joint is being compressed, or inflated from the inside (it is).

There may actually be visible swelling around the joint(s), or not.

Reduced Range of Joint Motion

Due to pain, or due to 'tightness', or due to a 'hard stop' where you just can't move the joint anymore, you may experience a loss of range of motion.

It doesn't matter whether it's cervical osteoarthritis or finger joint osteoarthritis, you may find that you can't move as far as you used to be able to.  

Maybe a little less, maybe a lot less.  Maybe you can't move it AT ALL!

Again, these are important clues as to what's going on in there.

Reduced Ability To Use Body Part Due To Pain or Other Symptoms

There's reduce range of motion where you physically can't go as far, and then there is not being able to move to a small or large degree because pain or some other bad sensation will literally stop you.

You reach for something or start to look over your shoulder or start to squeeze something (or act like you're squeezing something) and there is sudden pain and your body suddenly stops moving that direction.

This might feel like you're 'weak' which results in pain, or you might be pain free until the instant you are not.  It just all depends on your specific scenario.

Related Muscle Ache or Pain or Weakness

Muscles and/or structures local to the affected joint might ache, or hurt, or twitch/spasm.  

You might have joint pain -and- feel like your muscles hurt or are sore or are weak.

Tingling and/or Numbness

You might have tingling and/or numbness local to the joint issue.  So if you have wrist osteoarthritis, you could have numbness/tingling in the fingers, or higher up your arm and/or shoulder if you have shoulder osteoarthritis or cervical osteo arthritis.

Joint Deformation

The joint itself can grow, can reshape itself.  For fingers this looks like 'gnarled' joints and fingers twisted a little or a lot.  

I have a little deformation in one of the joints in my middle finger (because it used it to much when doing whiplash treatment), and that joint pops a little bit.

I admit, I've never done anything about because A. it doesn't hurt and B. it's not getting worse and C. it really doesn't bother me and D. I'm experimenting with seeing what happens with it over time.

I don't call this osteoarthritis, but as you'll see below, some of the same factors are involved.

The Reasons You Are Actually Having Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Osteoarthritis symptoms don't just magically appear. There is a mechanism and reasons for each of them.

Joint Pain In One Or More Joints

Joint pain exists because of a few factors.

1.  The Process of Inflammation releases pain enhancing chemical which makes you hurt more.  The joint is dense tissue and it doesn't get a lot of circulation, so that chemical gets stuck in there, and more keeps getting released out.

2.  The constant compression on the joint causes the joint to press into itself.  Over time, even with a light compression, this causes irritation and inflammation and pain.

3. Actual injury.  If there is wear and tear or worse injury, then the joint is in a constant state of injury.  This increases the process of inflammation and pain enhancing chemical, this increases muscle tightness and thus more compression (see: Pain Causing Dynamic), this has the nervous system dial up the 'defense mode' mechanism which equals more pain, etc.  

Joint Ache

Ache is a function of a small amount of pain enhancing chemical from the inflammation process.

It's also a function of the irritation of constant compression.

It's possible there's some swelling in there and that is causing it's own kind of compression, which causes irritation and thus joint ache.

If it aches more when you use the affected joint(s), that's because the joint linings that are compressed into each other rub/grind against each other and thus, more irritation!

Burning Sensation In Joint(s)

The burning sensaiton is primarily a function of the Pain Enhancing Chemical.  That's just one of the many wonderful things it does.  More pain, more burning sensation, etc.  

Grinding Sensation In Joint(s)

This sensation is because there is actual grinding going on.  The inner joint linings are under compression, and are articulating against each other with force.  

If there is wear and tear and scar tissue build up, then that all 'grinds' when there is movement.

If the cartilage is being worn away, that's due to the grinding.   

This symptom's causes is very self evident.  You feel grinding because there is grinding.

Joint Popping

Joints pop because they can't smoothly articulate.  So if tight muscles and connective tissue are compressing the joint, and you try to move, the joint still TRIES to move, and it WILL move.  But sometimes it has to jump over an obstacle to do so.

That's what the pop is.  It's the joint 'adjusting' itself because it literally CAN'T articulate smoothly.

TRY THIS EXPERIMENT:  Lay down in bed. Then put a 100 pound sandbag on top of you.  Now try to roll out of bed.  I promise you that it's not going to be smooth.

That's what it's like for your joint.  It tries to rotate, or hinge, but it can't so it has to make some adjustments while attempting to get where you're telling it to go.

Tight or Swollen Sensation

Compression causes a 'tight' feeling.  Tendons cross the joint and are attached to too tight muscle.  This tightness makes it hard for the joint to easily move, and thus, a feeling of tightness.

Inflammation causes swelling, and if the joint is swollen, that swelling puts pressure on the structure from the inside.  This causes a tight feeling...because the moving parts of the joint ARE tighter than they should be, so you feel it.

Reduced Range of Joint Motion

Your joint should ideally have a smooth, full, easy range of motion.


Tightness causes a lack of muscle range of motion, so if the muscle can't create length, the joint can't move enough to get where it wants to go.

Swelling causes an ability for the joint to move through it's entire range of motion.

Pain causes the nervous system to NOT allow the muscles to move (basically).  If your brain thinks you're going to hurt yourself, it won't let the muscles fire enough to let you move fully.  Or at all, sometimes.

That can either look like weakness, or not letting the body part move fully, or a SUDDEN stop of movement.

Reduced Ability To Use Body Part Due To Pain or Other Symptoms

Like I explained above, the brain WILL NOT let you move if it thinks you're in danger of injury (or more pain).

So if you squeeze a jar lid or turn to look over your shoulder and you have a constant pain signal from an osteoarthritis issue (inflammation, swelling, pain, etc), your brain will A. give you a jolt of pain and B. NOT let you do what you want to do.

Admittedly, the brain is kind of dumb sometimes, but nevertheless, a little pain can cause the body to trigger A LOT of pain and can turn your muscles down or off or jerk you back the other way.

Related Muscle Ache or Pain or Weakness

And here's where the tendonitis dynamic comes in.  Anywhere you have  osteoarthritis symptoms you have Tendonitis.

See: What Is Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is made up of too tight muscles, too tight connective tissue, and inflammation (and some nutritional insufficiencies).  This tightness compresses the joint and causes osteoarthritis.

Regardless of what osteoarthritis symptom you have, tendonitis is it's parent.

So since Tendonitis basically causes osteoarthritis and osteoarthritis symptoms, and some of the Tendonitis Symptoms consist of muscle pain, muscle ache, muscle weakness, it makes sense that you can have any of those symptoms along with your osteoarthritis symptoms.

Tingling and/or Numbness

Osteoarthritis does NOT cause numbness or tingling.  If you have Osteoarthritis symptoms -and- numbness and tingling, the numbness/tingling is from the Tendonitis dynamic.

A joint can't cause tingling and/or numbness, but the tight muscles causing your osteo arthriis certain CAN.

So what do you think you should do to get rid of any numbness and/or tingling?

Joint Deformation

At the very bad end of the scale is joint deformation.   Joint deformation is an osteoarthritis symptom that shows up in the very advanced stages.

First the joint was just a little irritated, then a lot irritated.  Then inflammation kicked in, then wear and tear damage started and scar tissue laid down, then all that got ground away and the cartilage started to get torn away, and that grinding continues until bone on bone.

That takes years and years and years, in most cases.

The body shapes itself to the forces placed upon it.  All that compression on the bones of the joing cause the bones to literally grow, new bone tissue to layy down.  But this growth obviously isn't ideal as it reshapes the joint while it grows, and not in a good way.

Once this joint deformation happens, there's no goign back, that's permanent.  One might be able to make the pain go away, but the changes to the shape of the joint are permanent.

A Thought On Diagnosis and Symptoms

If you have joint pain and see a doctor and get an Osteoarthritis diagnosis, then you will always 'have' Osteoarthritis.

Doctors believe that there is no cure for arthritis. Sometime they even prescribe Antibiotic Treatment For Arthritis, but that's a horrible idea ESPECIALLY for osteoarthritis.

But if you have joint pain and go see a doctor, get a diagnosis, and then later get yourself pain free and have no Osteoarthritis symptoms, then, do you REALLy have ostearthritis?

Point being, who cares what it's called or if you've been diagnoses.  Diagnoses are just labels to describe a problem.  And since osteoarthritis is not a 'disease', then it's not like can 'have' osteoarthritis.

You do have some physical mechanisms in place that create what we call osteoarthritis symptoms.  Which means that you can reverse those mechanism to reduce any symptoms of osteoarthritis that you can reduce.

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