People who have osteoarthritis usually find that their symptoms:

  • come on slowly
  • include feeling achy with, or immediately after, using the joint
  • typically start in joints on only one side of the body
  • mainly occur in the knee, hip, finger joints, and big toe joint

Achy, painful joints are common signs of most forms of arthritis. In addition to causing pain, arthritis can make the joints feel stiff and cause them to have a limited range of motion. Osteoarthritis can significantly limit your ability to move an affected joint within its full range of motion because it changes the structure and function of the various tissues that make up the joint. See What causes osteoarthritis? to learn more about what happens to the joint. These changes can also cause a joint to feel unstable or to lock during use.

Symptoms can come from the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints, called the bursa. Symptoms may also arise from the sites where muscle attaches to bones, called the tendon.

The key difference in osteoarthritis compared with other types is when the joints ache and for how long.