Early arthritis symptoms can be vague and confusing, but they are important to recognize. Newly diagnosed arthritis patients quickly realize that early symptoms are just the first layer to be uncovered before a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan can be established.
Early symptoms linked to arthritis usually include
Tenderness in and around the joint
Limited range of motion in one or more joints
Redness and warmth around the affected joint
If you have pain, stiffness or swelling in or around a joint for more than two weeks, it's time to see your doctor. These symptoms can develop suddenly or slowly. Only a doctor can tell if it's arthritis. But "you have arthritis" is not a diagnosis. Ask for a specific diagnosis of the type of arthritis you have. There are more than 100 types – including osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis) and rheumatoid arthritis – each of which has different treatments. Getting the right treatment requires getting the right diagnosis.
As part of the diagnosis process, you may be asked by your doctor to take various lab tests such as antinuclear antibody tests, joint fluid tests or erythrocyte sedimentation tests. Each of these procedures helps your doctor or rheumatologist find out how your arthritis has progressed. Find out more about each with the Lab Test Guide.