What Is Arthritis and What Does It Feel Like?

Although arthritis pain can start off feeling like the occasional aches and pains you normally experience, arthritis is a much more serious, painful, and degenerative condition. It is caused by the inflammation of your joints and results in prolonged stiffness and pain.

An estimated 52.5 million adults in the U.S. have some form of arthritis. However, it can be difficult to know whether or not the pain you are feeling is arthritis. That’s why it’s so important to understand the types of arthritis pain and what each one feels like, so you can accurately explain your symptoms to your doctor and get the treatment you need.

There are two main types of arthritis pain: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Let’s take a closer look at each type.

Osteoarthritis Pain

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis pain, and unfortunately, it gets worse with age. About one in two people development symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee by the age of 85. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, this type develops as cartilage wears away. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the hips, knees, and lower back, but it’s also known to affect the fingers, toes, and neck.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This type of arthritis is inflammatory and characterized by joint symptoms. It can and often develops earlier in life, and it often affects both sides of the body, including the hands, wrists, fingers, ankles, and feet. Some rheumatoid arthritis sufferers experience non-joint symptoms as well, such as shortness of breath and fever.

Describing the Symptoms of Arthritis Pain

Sufferers of osteoarthritis most commonly describe their pain in the following ways:

  • Deep, aching pain in the joints
  • Pain that radiates into your groin, buttocks, and thighs
  • Swelling in the joints
  • Pain that temporarily goes away with rest
  • Pain that gets worse throughout the day
  • Pain while exercising
  • Pain that worsens on rainy days
  • Joint immobility

On the other hand, people who have rheumatoid arthritis commonly describe their pain like this:

  • Burning and throbbing sensations
  • Stiffness that’s the worst in the morning
  • Muscles that ache all over the body
  • Glandular swelling
  • Pain that increases with prolonged sitting
  • Periodic pain that gets worse and better, rather than remaining constant

Regardless of which type of arthritis you may have, your doctor will likely ask you to describe your symptoms and rate their severity on a scale of 1 to 10. Some of the key words that you can use in your pain description are aching, throbbing, sharp pain, shooting pain, hot sensation, dull pain, and grinding pain. It’s a smart idea to jot down a few notes about how you feel when pain symptoms arise so that you have an accurate assessment of how your pain fluctuates, worsens, and lessens over time.

Arthritis Pain Management & Relief

Physicians often treat arthritis symptoms with anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers. However, topical pain relief creams, like JointFlex, can also provide on-the-spot, immediate relief for arthritis pain, muscle sprains and strains, cramps, backaches, and even bruises. This FDA compliant non-prescription drug is recommended for use twice daily, and most people begin to feel relief in less than 20 minutes. Other arthritis pain management lifestyle tips include losing weight, getting more exercise, using hot and cold therapy, eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and getting a massage.