Arthritis? Joint Symptoms You Can't Ignore (and Ones You Can)

Knees, elbows, fingers, wrists, ankles—your body is full of places where your bones connect to one another. And at these intersections, just like the ones on the road, things can go wrong, from injury to arthritis or other diseases.

How can you know? Watch for these joint symptoms.

construction worker holding elbow

Pain at night.

Often, pain associated with an irritated joint is well tolerated when your joints are at work during the day. “But if it wakes you up at night, that tends to be a clue that there’s something more serious going on,” says Johns Hopkins rheumatologist Rebecca Manno, M.D., M.H.S.

Swelling, redness and/or warmth.

Joint swelling, redness in the area, or a section of skin that’s unusually warm to the touch are all signs of inflammation that could be due to arthritis, infection or another cause, Manno says.

Morning stiffness that takes hours to wear off.

“Many people feel a little stiff in the morning as they get older,” Manno says. “If it lasts less than 30 minutes and eases as you get moving, that’s not too worrisome. But if it doesn’t disappear until after lunch or later, that’s a sign there’s something more going on.”

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