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Diseases > Osteoarthritis | OA > Symptoms | Osteoarthritis | OA

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis (OA)?

Osteoarthritis usually starts slowly and gets worse with time. You might not notice it at first. The most common symptom among people with OA is joint pain and stiffness. However, different people show different symptoms. They can also have varying levels of discomfort and reduced joint mobility. For some people, joint pain and stiffness can reduce the quality of their sleep and lead to fatigue.

Joints can feel stiff after a period of rest or when you wake up in the morning. Morning stiffness usually lasts only 20 to 30 minutes, until the joint gets “worked out.” Osteoarthritis can also cause swelling of the joints. This can reduce the joint’s flexibility. It can also cause a loss of strength.

Typically joint pain is worse after you use the joint and it gets better with rest. For example, if you have OA in your hands, they might be painful after you spend time weeding in the garden. After a period of resting, your hands might start to feel better. When OA is more severe, the pain can continue throughout the day, even after periods of rest.

Work and Osteoarthritis

The pain and stiffness caused by OA can sometimes limit people’s normal activities, including work. But there are things you can do to lessen the impact of OA on your work and daily routine. Learning how to use your joints properly can help protect your joints from further damage. Adjusting features of your workplace can help make working with OA easier. For example, adjusting the position of chairs and desks for proper posture can help. For some jobs, assistive devices and braces can help protect the joints from the stress of repetitive motions.

Travel and Osteoarthritis

Traveling is still possible when you have OA. It is best to be organized prior to your trip to ensure a smooth, comfortable, and enjoyable time.

Sex and Osteoarthritis

Although OA does not particularly cause a loss of sex drive, it can cause pain, fatigue and emotional hardships. These hardships can create barriers to sexual needs, ability and satisfaction. Take comfort knowing that sex and intimacy can be maintained in people with OA … it can even draw partners closer together, especially through improved communication between mates.

For more information on intimacy and arthritis, a great book is Rheumatoid Arthritis: Plan to Win by Cheryl Koehn, Taysha Palmer and John Esdaile.

Pregnancy and Osteoarthritis

There is no evidence that OA affects pregnancies or their outcomes. However, the added weight gain during pregnancy may affect weight bearing joints such as the hips, knees, or feet. Some medications for OA are not safe at certain times during pregnancy.  Check with your doctor.

Read more – Treatment of Osteoarthritis