Understanding the Connection Between Arthritis and Bone Spurs

Arthritis-related conditions can cause additional symptoms besides joint pain, such as bone spurs. This type of bone condition is common among people who have osteoarthritis, for example.1

Interestingly, bone spurs can go undetected for many years. Some of them may require treatment while others do not, depending on where the bone spurs are located and how they affect the nearby joints.

Here is a description of what bone spurs are, what causes bone spurs, common bone spur symptoms, and how to treat this condition. We’ll also address how painful bone spurs can be and why they even form in the first place. We’ll answer frequently asked bone spur questions such as, “are bone spurs arthritis?”, “what are osteoarthritis bone spurs?” and more.

Understanding Types of Bone Spurs: What Are Osteoarthritis Bone Spurs?

Bone spurs are small outgrowths or protrusions that form along the edges of bones.2 They are also called osteophytes, and they most commonly form in places where two bones meet. Osteoarthritis bone spurs also commonly occur in places where bones attach to ligaments, muscles, and tendons.1 While bone spurs can occur in various parts of the body, they are most common on the bones in the lower back, neck, hips, shoulders, and knees.

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Are Bone Spurs Arthritis? – What Causes Bone Spurs?

Osteoarthritis is a very common cause of bone spurs because they form in places of continued rubbing over long periods of time.1 Yet bone spurs can also be caused by tendinitis, inflammation, or medical conditions that target just one part of the body, such as plantar fasciitis.3,4,5 People who have experienced trauma to a joint are more prone to developing a bone spur there. Diabetes is also believed to be a risk factor for bone spurs.6

Bone Spur Symptoms

Unlike many other effects of osteoarthritis, bone spurs may not be symptomatic at all.7,8 Lots of people have arthritis and bone spurs at the same time and don’t even realize it. However, people with bone spurs that occur in the hips, knees, hands, and feet may notice mobility challenges that get in the way of daily activities. Bone spurs that occur in the bones of the spine are especially concerning because they can pinch spinal cord nerves and result in spinal tingling, weakness, loss of balance, and numbness.8

Are Bone Spurs Painful?

Some bone spurs are painful while others are not even noticeable. If joints are feeling increasingly painful and loss of motion is experienced, bone spurs could be to blame. An X-ray performed by a doctor will likely reveal if bone spurs exist and dictate the proper treatment options to pursue

Arthritis and Bone Spurs: How to Treat Osteoarthritis Bone Spurs

To treat bone spur symptoms and address pain caused by arthritis and bone spurs, doctors often recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and topical creams to target specific pain regions.1,5 Simply resting painful joints with bone spurs can bring some relief, but rehabilitation therapy should also be explored to restore strength and flexibility to the affected joint regions.9

It may also be necessary to use cortisone steroid injection to reduce joint swelling and pain on a temporary basis.  A laminectomy is a form of surgery that may be discussed in regard to osteoarthritis bone spurs if the spurs are causing severe neurological symptoms and nerve compression in the spine.10 It is always advised to discuss the risks and benefits of various treatment options based on an individual’s age, arthritis disease progression, and other medical complications that may exist.

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1. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Osteoarthritis (OA). The Merck Manual. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/osteoarthritis-oa.
2. Burke, S. (2016 December 7). What are lumbar osteophytes (Bone spurs)? Arthritis Health. Retrieved October 25, 2018 from https://www.arthritis-health.com/blog/visual-guide-lumbar-osteophytes-bone-spurs.
3. Achilles Tendinitis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/achilles-tendinitis/.
4. Plantar fasciitis and bone Spurs. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/plantar-fasciitis-and-bone-spurs.
5. Bone spurs. Cedars-Sinai. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/b/bone-spurs.html.
6. Schneider, J. H. (2010 December 14). Clinical symptoms of bone spurs. Spine Health. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/arthritis/clinical-symptoms-bone-spurs.
7. Kowalchuk, D. (2016 November 18). What is a bone spur? Sports Health. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://www.sports-health.com/sports-injuries/general-injuries/what-bone-spur.
8. Bone spurs. The Bonati Institute. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://www.bonati.com/conditions/bone-spurs/.
9. Schneider, J. H. (2010 December 14). Treatment options for spurs. Spine Health. Retrieved October 26, 2018 from https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/arthritis/treatment-options-bone-spurshttps://www.spine-health.com/conditions/arthritis/clinical-symptoms-bone-spurs.
10 . Laminectomy. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved October 27, 2018 from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/orthopaedic/laminectomy_92,p07681.

Stiff Joints in the Morning: How to Ease Morning Stiffness Arthritis

Understanding the Causes of Joint Pain and Stiffness in the Morning

Many people find themselves waking up stiff and sore every morning and not really understanding why. This is one of the most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis,1,2,3 and it can really get in the way of a person’s daily activities.

However, morning stiffness causes also include osteoarthritis, especially after people with this condition physically exert themselves or have long periods of no activity.4

Here is some information about stiff joints in the morning, what causes it, and how to ease morning stiffness caused by arthritis. Fortunately, there are exercises, stretches, and measures that can be taken to make morning stiffness arthritis more manageable and less of a burden.

What Stiff Joints in the Morning Mean

When the joints are sore in the morning, it may mean that a type of arthritis is present in the joints. Most commonly, the type of arthritis that causes stiff joints in the morning is rheumatoid arthritis.1,2,3 But this stiffness often lingers past the early morning hours and affects a person’s quality of life later in the day as well. Stiff morning joints can occur in many different parts of the body, including the fingers, hands, wrists, knees, ankles, shoulders, hips, feet, and jaw. Morning stiffness could also be mean that a person has symptoms of fibromyalgia.5

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Morning Stiffness Causes

One common cause of joint pain and stiffness in the morning include a lack of activity during the hours of sleep. This cannot be fully avoided since the body needs an adequate amount of sleep each night. Some studies have shown that the circadian rhythms of the body can also cause bodily cells to become inflamed at certain stages of sleep, and this can lead to morning stiffness arthritis.6,7 Another one of the possible morning stiffness causes is low levels of cortisol released at night during sleep.8

What to Do If You’re Waking Up Stiff and Sore Every Morning: How to Ease Morning Stiffness Arthritis Symptoms

Fortunately, there are some ways to counteract the cycle of waking up stiff and sore every morning.9 It’s a good idea to take prescribed arthritis medication right after waking up so it can begin to take effect immediately to ease morning stiffness. It is also recommended to do exercises in the morning, especially range-of-motion exercises that get the knees, hips, hands, and feet moving again. Also, try taking a warm bath or shower first thing in the morning to soothe sore joints, or use a heating pad before getting up to move around. Arthritis pain relief creams, like JointFlex, can help ease morning stiffness arthritis by deeply penetrating the skin to deliver immediate and long-lasting relief to the site of stiffness.

Sleep can be beneficial for arthritis sufferers pain management.10 At night, it is advised to sleep in a position that supports the joints most affected by arthritis and on a comfortable mattress. This may include propping the knees or hands up on a pillow for extra support. A warm sleeping environment is best for people who experience stiff joints in the morning. It may also help to use adaptive devices to assist with morning hygiene routines and chores until the fingers, hands, and other joint regions loosen up later in the day.

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1. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra.
2. Scott, J. T. (1960). Morning Stiffness in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, 19, 361-368. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from https://ard.bmj.com/content/annrheumdis/19/4/361.full.pdf.
3. Freeman, G. Inflammation and stiffness: The hallmarks of arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/arthritis-swelling-and-stiffness.php.
4. Osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/.
5. Fibromyalgia. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/fibromyalgia.
6. Straub, R. H. & Cutolo, M. (2007 February). Circadian rhythms in rheumatoid arthritis: Implications for pathophysiology and therapeutic management. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 56, 399-408. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/art.22368.
7. Gibbs, J. E. & Ray, D. W. (2013 February 21). The role of the circadian clock in rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 15. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from https://arthritis-research.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/ar4146.
8. Imrich, R., Vlcek, M., Kerlik, J., Vogeser, M., Kirchhoff, F., Penesova, A., Radikova, Z., Lukac, J. & Rovensky, J. (2012 February 29). Adrenal function in rheumatoid arthritis: a correlation with disease activity. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 14. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from https://arthritis-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/ar3628.
9. Chu, R. 10 tips to overcome morning stiffness. National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from https://www.fmcpaware.org/fundraising/176-movement-therapies/907-10-tips-to-overcome-morning-stiffness.html.
10. DeVries, C. (2017 April 10). 9 ways you can sleep better with osteoarthritis. Veritas Health. Retrieved October 21, 2018 from https://www.arthritis-health.com/blog/9-ways-you-can-sleep-better-osteoarthritis.

Understanding the Many Non-Joint Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Many people understand rheumatoid arthritis as a condition of the joints, and it most certainly is this. However, before even receiving a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, individuals may begin to notice symptoms that appear to have nothing to do with the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects the entire body and cause changes in everything from a person’s energy level, skin, and body weight.

These are some of the most common non-joint rheumatoid arthritis symptoms that may serve as early warning signs for the disease or accompany progressively worsening joint issues.

With a better understanding of what these bodily symptoms could mean, individuals may be able to assist their doctors in arriving to an accurate diagnosis much quicker. In addition to using a pain relief cream, like JointFlex for RA, it may be necessary to seek additional treatment for the following symptoms as well.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Shortness of Breath

Rheumatoid arthritis shortness of breath can occur, along with other issues with the heart and blood vessels. For example, RA patients may experience chest pain and are at a greater risk of atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart attack.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Fever

Rheumatoid arthritis fever is also somewhat common among RA patients when their diseases are producing inflammation. These fevers are usually mild and go down once the inflammation is treated.


In RA patients with chronic inflammation, there are fewer red blood cells in circulation. This phenomenon can lead to anemia, which is marked by symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, paleness, brittle hair and nails.

Muscle Aches

Not only can the joints ache with RA, but the muscles can too. This is because the joints and muscles must work together to put the body in motion. When the joints are suffering, the muscles have to work harder and endure additional strain.

Poor Appetite and Weight Loss

Individuals who are experiencing poor appetite an unexplained weight loss should consult a doctor, because these are early warning signs of RA.

Lung Inflammation

The lungs are very commonly affected with RA, but the inflammation and scarring that results may not even feel symptomatic. But if the lung tissue is inflamed for long periods of time, pulmonary fibrosis can occur and make breathing more difficult.


Hoarseness is a condition of losing one’s voice and not being able to produce words and sounds as normal. This is one of the lesser-known rheumatoid arthritis symptoms because the condition can actually affect the joint in the voice box.


It sometimes surprises people to learn that there is a connection between the skin and rheumatoid arthritis. But around half of people with RA start to develop tissue lumps under the skin called nodules. These lumps will commonly form on the fingers or the elbows.

Arthritis Rash

It is also very possible for a skin rash to be connected to RA, and this is because bodily inflammation can affect the blood vessels and result in small red dots. Compared to rashes caused by irritants or other conditions, treatment for an arthritis rash begins with reducing overall inflammation.

Dry Eyes and Mouth

Many people with RA also complain about dry eyes and dry mouth. When joints are inflamed, the glands that produce tears and saliva can also be affected. Eye drops and artificial saliva products may help to alleviate these symptoms.

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A Comparison of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Understanding the Difference Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

The two most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, but each of these conditions has its own unique causes and symptoms.1 Yet these two conditions are sometimes confused with each other, especially in the early stages of development. Since both forms of arthritis involve joint pain, some initial treatment options are similar, but targeted prevention and treatment strategies may vary from person to person.

This article will answer the question of what is the difference between rheumatoid and osteoarthritis to help individuals with joint pain address and treat their specific condition. In addition to an RA vs. OA comparison, it will also cover the most accurate ways to tell the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Types of Arthritis and Their Symptoms

In general, arthritis is a joint condition that commonly results in pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion.2 Swelling in the joints and fatigue are also characteristic of multiple types of arthritis and symptoms of these various types.

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All About Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by joint pain, stiffness in the morning, reduced range of motion, fatigue, and loss of energy.3 These symptoms get worse first thing after waking up and after long periods of rest or activity. It commonly occurs in people between the ages of 30 and 50, but RA can flare up in children and young adults as well.4 RA affects the hands and ankles more than other parts of the body.

All About Osteoarthritis

By comparison, osteoarthritis involves wear and tear of the joints, either over time with age or due to an injury.5 Joint pain, stiffness, and reduced motion of the joints are all common symptoms in osteoarthritis patients. The knees, hips, and back are very commonly affected by OA, but fingers and toes can become stiff and painful with OA as well. The onset of osteoarthritis occurs typically later in life than rheumatoid arthritis, with middle-aged and elderly adults frequently affected.

Arthritis FAQs: What Is the Difference Between Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis? Can Osteoarthritis Turn Into Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Based on these descriptions, it is clear to see that there are many differences between rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. For example, RA is an autoimmune condition, while OA is a degenerative disease. The two types of arthritis affect different demographics, are triggered by different things and involve different joints in the body.

Some people ask their doctors, “Can osteoarthritis turn into rheumatoid arthritis?” But this is not typically possible or a major cause for concern. In fact, it is very rare for an individual to have both RA and OA at the same time.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for either RA or OA, so it is up to patients and their doctors to make the symptoms more manageable.6,7 Treatment options for both conditions include corticosteroid and anti-inflammatory medications, topical relief creams like JointFlex, weight management, and physical therapy. But since rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, additional medications may be recommended to prevent the immune system from further attacking the body.

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1. Brandt, K. D. (2010 October 31). Osteoarthritis diagnosis: Avoiding the pitfalls. Rheumatology Network. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from http://www.rheumatologynetwork.com/osteoarthritis/osteoarthritis-diagnosis-avoiding-pitfalls/.
2. Arthritis. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from https://medlineplus.gov/arthritis.html.
3. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra.
4. Mehta, J. & Pessler, F. (2018 April). Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 23, 2018 from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/juvenile-idiopathic-arthritis-jia/juvenile-idiopathic-arthritis-jia.
5. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Osteoarthritis (OA). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/osteoarthritis-oa.
6. Osteoarthritis (OA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm.
7. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 24, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/rheumatoid-arthritis.html.

The Arthritis Diet: Foods to Ease Arthritis Pain

Food has a profound effect on the body and can influence how individuals feel and the severity of health symptoms that they are experiencing. This is especially true in cases of arthritis because there are many types of food for arthritis that can make joint inflammation better and worse. While there is not one specific arthritis diet plan, there are specific foods that arthritis suffers can choose to eat and choose to avoid in order to feel better on a daily basis. There are also strategies to follow to eat well for one’s specific type of arthritis that can help ease arthritis pain.

This article will discuss the ideal arthritis diet, including the very best anti-inflammatory foods and foods to avoid with arthritis.

Salmon and Tuna

Not everyone enjoys the taste or texture of fish, but this is by far one of the best foods of the arthritis diet.1.8 This is because fish contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which have proven in studies to reduce joint swelling and pain.2,3,6 Coldwater fish, such as salmon and tuna, are great foods for arthritis sufferers. Fish oil pills may also be taken as an alternative to fresh fish.4

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Cherries and Other Berries

Certain types of fruits, especially berries, are packed with antioxidants, which boost the body’s defense system and fight free radicals.5,8 Tart cherries are a good part of any arthritis diet plan for this reason, as well as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries.6,8

Dark Green Vegetables

There are also many vegetables that are high in antioxidants, such as broccoli, kale, and spinach.6,8 Dark green vegetables are high in vitamin K, which may help reduce bodily inflammation when eaten regularly and should be part of every arthritis diet.


Some people looking for healthy food for arthritis turn to vegetarianism and veganism because of the anti-inflammatory nature of meat-free foods. Beans are an excellent plant-based source of protein and a great addition to any arthritis diet.7,8 Red kidney beans and pinto beans are excellent sources of fiber and phytonutrients, which may help reduce inflammation.

Whole Grains

Not only do whole grains help people with arthritis maintain a healthy weight, but foods made with the entire grain kernel can help prevent inflammation too.8 Oatmeal and quinoa are healthy grain options to choose.

Olive Oil

Similar to fish, olive oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-healthy fats.8 Pure olive oil also contains oleocanthal, which has anti-inflammatory properties.


A spice rather than a food, turmeric is widely popular for its anti-inflammatory properties.6,8 Turmeric has been widely studied because of its inflammatory-fighting compound called curcumin. It has been used in ancient cultures for thousands of years to reduce swelling from diseases.


Foods that are parts of the allium family, such as garlic and onions, contain diallyl disulfide, which has a positive effect on cartilage-damaging enzymes.6,8 Add garlic to meals for extra flavor and to keep inflammation at bay.

Foods to Avoid with Arthritis

While all of the above examples are great food sources for people with arthritis, there are also certain foods that should be generally avoided.9 Foods to avoid with arthritis include sugar, processed foods, fried foods, and red meat. High-fat dairy products, white bread and pasta, salt, and corn oil should be generally avoided as well.

These are all well-known triggers of bodily inflammation and can be especially problematic among arthritis sufferers. Of course, moderation is key with any arthritis diet plan, so make sure to incorporate all food groups into daily meals for well-balanced nutrition.

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1. Best fish for arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/best-foods-for-arthritis/best-fish-for-arthritis.php.
2. Caulder, P. C. (2010 March). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes. Nutrients, 2, 355–374. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257651/.
3. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for arthritis. Arthritis Today Magazine. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/omega-3-fatty-acids-arthritis/.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids: Fact sheet for consumers. National Institute of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/.
5. Baby, B., Antony, P., & Vijayan, R. (2017) Antioxidant and anticancer properties of berries. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 13, 1-17. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28609132. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2017.1329198.
6. Six food choices to help ease arthritis pain. Arthritis Today Magazine. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/diet-foods-arthritis-pain/.
7. Twelve best foods for arthritis: Break out the beans. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/best-foods-for-arthritis/best-foods-for-arthritis-11.php.
8. Paturel, A. The ultimate arthritis diet. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/anti-inflammatory/the-arthritis-diet.php.
9. Eight food ingredients that can cause inflammation. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 28, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/foods-to-avoid-limit/food-ingredients-and-inflammation.php.

The Arthritis Test & How Doctors Make an Arthritis Diagnosis

Many people feel stiff and sore when they wake up in the morning and while engaging in daily activities. Oftentimes, joint pain is unexplained, which leads individuals to consult a doctor for a professional opinion about what’s going on.

It may surprise some people to learn that there is not one single arthritis test used to make an arthritis diagnosis. In fact, the process of conducting a test for arthritis often involves asking a lot of questions, having a physical exam, and ordering multiple lab and imaging tests.1,2,3

Here is some information about how medical professionals make an arthritis diagnosis and the various arthritis test options that may be conducted.

Do I have Arthritis?

Not every form of joint pain is arthritis, but many people wonder, “Do I have arthritis?” when the pain becomes persistent or gets in the way of daily life. As with many diagnosis procedures, an experienced physician will typically begin a patient office visit with an evaluation of the medical and family history.2 This conversation will include topics like when did the joint symptoms start, the level of pain, any pain triggers, past and current health conditions, family history of arthritis, and lifestyle habits.

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How to Test for Arthritis in a Physical Exam

After these initial conversations, the next step in conducting a test for arthritis is a physical exam.2 Doctors will touch the affected joints to check for swelling, redness, and stiffness. It is also common for doctors to make a joint count of how many joints are affected and whether they are on one or both sides of the body. Joint warmth and fluid can often also be felt during a physical exam of an arthritis patient. In addition to a joint assessment, doctors will commonly also take a patient’s temperature, look into the eyes, nose, ears, and throat, and check for reflexes and swollen glands.

Arthritis Test Lab and Imaging Options

Beyond what can be determined in a physical exam, doctors may also conduct lab and imaging tests to confirm an arthritis diagnosis. Bodily fluids and an internal look at the joints can often reveal what external symptoms cannot.2,4

For example, if a doctor suspects that a patient has an inflammatory form of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lab tests are often used. These may include an antinuclear antibody test, rheumatoid factor test, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide test, and uric acid test. Other tests can be used to monitor arthritis conditions over time and see if a medication is helping a patient. Common monitoring tests include a salicylate level test, creatinine test, and muscle enzyme tests.

However, it is important to remember that there are limitations as to what lab tests can do and what they reveal. Especially in the early stages of an arthritis disease, patients may not test positive for arthritis even though their joints are worsening.5,6 This is why X-rays, MRIs, and other imaging tests are often used to make an arthritis diagnosis.7 During the process of obtaining an accurate diagnosis, people with joint pain can use over-the-counter solutions and home remedies, such as JointFlex, ice packs, and heating pads, to relieve the pain until a long-term treatment plan can be established.

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1. Arthritis diagnosis. University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=85&contentid=P00050.
2. Diagnosing arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/diagnosing-arthritis.php.
3. Do I have arthritis? Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/do-i-have-arthritis.php.
4. Dunkin, M. A. Lab test guide. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/tools-resources/lab-test-guide/.
5. Frank, J. (2016 August 26). Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. Arthritis Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.arthritis-health.com/types/rheumatoid/rheumatoid-arthritis-diagnosis/.
6. Frank, J. (2016 August 24). Blood test to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Arthritis Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.arthritis-health.com/types/rheumatoid/blood-tests-help-diagnose-rheumatoid-arthritis-ra.
7. Medical imaging for arthritis diagnosis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from http://blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/medical-imaging-arthritis-diagnosis/.

Ankylosing Spondylitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

There are many different forms of arthritis that occur in the human body, and one of the less familiar forms of it is called ankylosing spondylitis. This condition primarily affects the spine and causes the spinal joints to become inflamed and painful.1

It is very important for this condition to be diagnosed and treated promptly because it can lead to the formation of new bones in the spine and even for the spine to fuse together in immovable positions. The CDC estimates that around 2.7 million adults in the U.S. have ankylosing spondylitis.2

This article will describe the condition of ankylosing spondylitis, including detailed information about its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Ankylosing Spondylitis Causes

After addressing the question of what is ankylosing spondylitis, the next logical question is what its causes are. Researchers believe that there is a strong genetic component to the development of ankylosing spondylitis.3 Studies have shown that bacterial infections can also trigger the onset of ankylosing spondylitis, especially gastrointestinal infections.4

Ankylosing Spondylitis Symptoms

Pain and stiffness in the neck down to the lower back region of the body are the early warning signs of ankylosing spondylitis.3 Other common ankylosing spondylitis symptoms are bony fusions and ligament and tendon pain.

The most common place for ankylosing spondylitis symptoms to occur is in the spine; however, this condition can affect other joints as well. Patients with ankylosing spondylitis may also experience pain, stiffness, and swelling in the hips, ribs, shoulders, hands, and feet. In rarer cases, ankylosing spondylitis can even affect a person’s eyes, heart, and lungs.

It is common for ankylosing spondylitis symptoms to present themselves in late adolescence and in a person’s early 20s. However, people in a wide range of ages continue to be diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis.

How Ankylosing Spondylitis is Diagnosed

After consulting a primary care physician about the symptoms being experienced, ankylosing spondylitis is often diagnosed by a rheumatologist who is experienced in disorders of the joints and bones.1 Rheumatologists typically factor in medical and family history, a physical exam, X-rays of the back and hips, chest measurements while breathing, and blood work while making a diagnosis.

Treatment Options for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for ankylosing spondylitis, but there are treatments available to manage and reduce the symptoms.5 Physical and occupational therapy are often recommended for ankylosing spondylitis patients to help prevent deformities and maintain good posture.6,7 Daily exercise can also help strengthen the muscles around the spine to achieve these goals.1,3,8 Some ankylosing spondylitis patients take NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and aspirin, to help with the pain. Meanwhile, targeted topical creams, like JointFlex, can help relieve pain where it hurts the most when massaged into the neck and back.

In severe cases, artificial joint replacement surgery may be an option to consider. To prevent ankylosing spondylitis symptoms from getting worse, individuals are advised not to smoke tobacco products and to sleep on a firm mattress.6,9 The best sleeping position for someone with this condition is a flat back without thick pillows under the head or to prop up the legs.10

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1. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Ankylosing spondylitis. The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/ankylosing-spondylitis#v34445915.
2. Frank, J. (2017 April 6). Understanding the different names and classifications for spondyloarthritis (SpA). Arthritis Health. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from https://www.arthritis-health.com/types/general/understanding-different-names-and-classifications-spondyloarthritis-spa.
3. Ankylosing spondylitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/ankylosing-spondylitis#tab-causes.
4. What is ankylosing spondylitis? Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/ankylosing-spondylitis/what-is-ankylosing-spondylitis.php.
5. Ankylosing spondylitis. Better Health Channel. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/ankylosing-spondylitis.
6. Ankylosing spondylitis self-care. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/ankylosing-spondylitis/self-care.php.
7. Tricás-Moreno, J. M., Lucha-López, M. O., Lucha-López, A. C., Salavera-Bordás, C., & Vidal-Peracho, C. (2016 April 28).  Optimizing physical therapy for ankylosing spondylitis: a case study in a young football player. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 28, 1392-1397. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4868250/.
8. Ankylosing spondylitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Retrieved November 1, 2018 from https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/ankylosing-spondylitis#tab-treatment.
9. Zhang, S., Li, Y., Xu, X., Feng, X., Yang, D., & Lin, G. (2015 August 15). Effect of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption on disease activity and physical functioning in ankylosing spondylitis: a cross-sectional study. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, 8, 13919–13927. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from National Center of Biotechnology Information https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4613033/.
10. Deardorff, W.W. (2016 August 12). How to sleep better if you have ankylosing spondylitis. Arthritis Health. Retrieved November 2, 2018 from https://www.arthritis-health.com/blog/how-sleep-better-if-you-have-ankylosing-spondylitis.

Early Signs of Arthritis and When to See a Doctor

Although there are several different types of arthritis that people suffer from, they all involve joint pain in one or more regions of the body.

Oftentimes, arthritis pain comes on gradually, and individuals learn to live with the pain on a daily basis.

Untreated arthritis can result in severe and permanent joint damage, so it is in a patient’s best interest to begin treatment as soon as possible.

Here is a discussion of the early signs of arthritis, as well as the average early onset arthritis age and when it’s time to see a doctor based upon the first signs of arthritis observed.

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Overall Symptoms and Signs of Arthritis

These are the most common symptoms and signs of arthritis that people experience during various stages of the disease:1,2,3

  • Joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint tenderness
  • Joint redness
  • Joint warmth
  • Joint stiffness
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Joint deformity

Early Signs of Arthritis

While some signs of arthritis develop and worsen with time, other symptoms are often present at the onset of the disease. Common early signs of arthritis are morning stiffness,4 fatigue,5tingling,6 and numbness of the joints.

Individuals with early onsite arthritis may feel unusually fatigued doing normal daily activities, and this fatigue may come or go on certain days. Tingling and numbness may be mild sensations in the beginning. Stiffness in the morning that only lasts a few minutes is often an early warning sign of a degenerative form of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis. Meanwhile, individuals who experience morning stiffness that lasts a few hours may be feeling an early warning sign of rheumatoid arthritis or another form of inflammatory arthritis.6

Early Onset Arthritis Age Range

In regards to rheumatoid arthritis, for example, the average arthritis age of diagnosis in adults is between 30 and 50.7 Therefore, the early onset arthritis age is anything less than 30 because people of any age can actually develop this form of arthritis.

It is a common misconception that one is “too young” to have arthritis. But in fact, about half of arthritis patients are under the age of 65. While osteoarthritis is more closely associated with elderly adults and most people over 60 have at least some degree of osteoarthritis,8 the early onset arthritis age for this this condition is between 20 and 40.9

What Does Arthritis Feel Like?

Arthritis feels like pain in the joints, but there’s a lot more to it than just that. In addition to the early signs of arthritis described above, individuals who are in the early stages of developing arthritis may experience general weakness,7 difficulty sleeping,10 loss of appetite,6 and weight loss. It is also common to have dry mouth, dry eyes, eye discharge, or chest pain early-on.

When to Seek Treatment for Signs of Arthritis

If unexplained joint pain persists or worsens, it is time seek the experience of a trained medical professional. It is common to begin the treatment process by making an appointment with a primary care physician, who may refer the patient to an arthritis specialist, called a rheumatologist.

A physician may recommend using arthritis pain relief creams, such as JointFlex, oral medications, joint injections, or perhaps weight reduction based upon the early warning signs of arthritis. However, it’s important to remember that a prompt diagnosis can help preserve joint function and mobility for many years to come.

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1. Do I have arthritis? Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/do-i-have-arthritis.php.
2. Osteoarthritis symptoms. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 19, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/symptoms.php.
3. When to make an appointment with your doctor. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 19, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/when-to-see-a-doctor-about-arthritis.php.
4. What makes my joints stiff in the morning? Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved October 18, 2018 https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/what-makes-my-joints-stiff-in-the-morning.
5. Fatigue & Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/fatigue/.
6. Ezerioha, M. (2016). RA Symptoms: How Do You Diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis?  Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from https://www.rheumatoidarthritis.org/ra/symptoms/.
7. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 19, 2018 from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra.
8. Osteoarthritis. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/orthopaedic_disorders/osteoarthritis_85,P00061.
9. Osteoarthritis causes. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/causes.php.
10. Sleep problems with arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 19, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/sleep-insomnia/.
11. When to make an appointment with your doctor. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 19, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/when-to-see-a-doctor-about-arthritis.php.