Recognizing the Symptoms of Arthritis 

Arthritis symptoms are complicated and varied, but this checklist can help you and your doctor figure out what’s going on. 


If you have arthritis, your joints will most likely feel stiff and be hard to move. When and for how 
long they feel stiff will help your doctor determine what type of arthritis you have. When do you 
feel most stiff?
  • In the morning (how long does it last?)
  • Following exercise
  • After you’ve been sitting for a while
  • After exercising


The area around your joints may feel warm, look red or puffy. It may hurt only when you touch the area or all the time. You may also feel like there is fluid in the swollen area.  This is likely because the tissue around your joint are inflamed. Let your doctor know if these symptoms come and go or stay for a longer period of time.

Location of Pain and Stiffness

Knowing which joints bother you the most will also help your doctor figure out the source of your 
pain. Different types of arthritis affect different joints or in different patterns (both sides of the body or mostly on one side, for example).
  • Fingers
  • Hands
  • Wrists
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Ankles
  • Feet
  • Shoulders
  • Hips
  • Jaw
  • Lower back 

Nature of Joint Symptoms

Understanding how your joints bother you the most will also help your doctor decide if you have 
arthritis or another condition. you have these joint symptoms?
  • Stiffness
  • Pain
  • Warmth
  • Redness
  • Joint swelling that lasts for more than three days
  • Joint swelling that occurs more than three times a month
  • Difficulty moving a joint

Other Symptoms

Certain types of arthritis can have symptoms not directly related to your joints. Your doctor will 
look for or ask you about these symptoms:
  • Fatigue 
  • Scaly, itchy skin 
  • Changes to finger and toe nails 
  • Rashes
  • Fever 
  • Weight loss 
  • Hair loss in spots or around the hairline

Before visiting the doctor, keep track of your symptoms for a few weeks, noting what is swollen  
and stiff, when, for how long and what helps ease the symptoms. Getting an accurate diagnosis is the next step so you can begin a treatment plan that will protect your mobility and quality of life.

Stay in the Know. Live in the Yes.

Get involved with the arthritis community. Tell us a little about yourself and, based on your interests, you’ll receive emails packed with the latest information and resources to live your best life and connect with others.