Since many conditions that affect bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage cause pain, it's essential to give details to your doctor about your pain. Doing so can help your doctor distinguish between osteoarthritis and other conditions.

What to Tell About Your Pain

Be sure to tell your doctor the following:

  • when the pain started and how quickly it came on
  • the area where you feel pain
  • anything that makes the pain better, such as rest
  • anything that makes the pain worse, such as movement
  • the quality or character of your pain, such as: Is it sharp or dull? Does it stab? Does it travel from one area to another? Does it come and go? Does it feel numb or like pins and needles? Does it burn?
What to Tell About Joint Stiffness

Joint stiffness is a key factor in several types of arthritis. So, it's important to tell your doctor these traits about your stiffness:

  • what time of day it occurs
  • what brings it on, such as activity or rest
  • how long it lasts
  • what affects your stiffness, such as the weather
  • what, if anything, relieves it

With osteoarthritis, stiffness generally occurs first thing in the morning and after other long periods of being inactive. It usually lasts a short time - less than 30 minutes. Stiffness may also be worse when the weather is damp or cool.