Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that can occur in both children and adults. While most types of arthritis develop over time, some can strike without warning. Learning to recognize arthritis signs and symptoms early on is key to battling this disease.

While many different types of arthritis exist, all involve joint inflammation. So what are symptoms of arthritis?  Early symptoms of arthritis include morning joint stiffness, reduced flexibility and a loss of joint range-of-motion. As this disease continues to progress, joint pain and severe stiffness may become noticeable.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This condition typically affects joints such as knees, hips, hands and wrists. Osteoarthritis eventually erodes the cartilage in the joints, which leads to severe pain and a loss of function. People who have arthritis hands symptoms either have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include early morning stiffness that does not resolve within an hour of waking. People must have joint swelling and pain for at least six consecutive weeks before a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can be made. With this type of arthritis, the affected joints often feel warm to the touch and are visibly swollen.

Some types of arthritis can strike during childhood. Juvenile arthritis affects children before they are 16 years of age. This type of arthritis can affect a single joint in the body or multiple joints. When juvenile arthritis symptoms are severe, children can develop rashes on the skin, fever and swollen lymph nodes. Like adult arthritis, this type of arthritis can cause flare-ups that are especially painful. Psoriatic arthritis is a less common form of arthritis, often striking those who have psoriasis. Some early symptoms of this disease include pain in the feet, swollen toes, finger swelling and pain in the lower back.

Anyone who experiences the early symptoms of arthritis should consult their doctor for a full evaluation. Once a diagnosis is made, patients are typically referred to a doctor who specializes in arthritic conditions. There are many medications and treatments that are designed to help those with arthritis live full and functional lives.