What does arthritis feel like?

In all types of arthritis, the area around a joint, such as the wrist, knee, or elbow, can become red, swollen, and tender to the touch. It may also feel warm.

People who have arthritis report that their condition limits both the physical and social aspects of their lives. Arthritis may affect their ability to bend, lift, or grasp objects, or walk more than a short distance. As the disease worsens, it can impact every aspect of daily life, including personal hygiene such as bathing, grooming, and using the toilet. Joint pain may also alter your ability to do household tasks such as shopping, cleaning, and the laundry. Pain can also limit your social and leisure activities. These limitations alone can strain marriages and partnerships, so a possible shift in caregiver responsibilities and an impact on sexual activity only complicates matters. Not surprisingly, people who have arthritis may have feelings of helplessness and loss of control over their lives, which can lead to depression.


See What are the common symptoms of osteoarthritis? Also see What are the different types of arthritis? to learn more about the symptoms of specific common types.

On the worst days, having arthritis is painful and can feel overwhelming. Treatment can help you cope with the pain and with the adaptations that come with it. Finding other people who have arthritis can also help. See How can I get the support I need?


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