Symptoms and Diagnosis

Pain and Stiffness in Joints

Different types of arthritis have different symptoms. In general, people with most forms of arthritis have pain and stiffness in their joints.

Osteoarthritis usually develops slowly and can occur in any joint, but often occurs in weight-bearing joints. Early in the disease, joints may ache after physical work or exercise. Most often, osteoarthritis occurs in the hands, hips, knees, neck, or low back.

Common Signs

Common signs of osteoarthritis include

Not everyone with osteoarthritis feels pain, however. In fact, only a third of people with x-ray evidence of osteoarthritis report pain or other symptoms.


To make a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, most doctors use a combination of methods and tests including a medical history, a physical examination, x-rays, and laboratory tests.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask

It is important for people with joint pain to give the doctor a complete medical history. Answering these questions will help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis:

A patient's attitudes, daily activities, and levels of anxiety or depression have a lot to do with how severe the symptoms of osteoarthritis may be.

Who Can Provide Care

Treating arthritis often requires a multidisciplinary or team approach. Many types of health professionals care for people with arthritis. You may choose a few or more of the following professionals to be part of your health care team.