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9 Arthritis Symptoms to Look Out For Now

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    You Wake Up Stiff

    "If you experience pain in your joints first thing in the morning, but it subsides as you move around, osteoarthritis may be to blame," says Joseph Herrera, MD, a sports medicine doctor and an assistant professor of rehabilitation at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. You may also experience similar stiffness if you've been sitting for a long time.

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    Your Joints Lock

    Osteoarthritis wears down your cartilage, creating loose pieces of cartilage that can make it difficult for your joints to move fluidly, hence "locked" joints, says Ishimori.

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    You End the Day in Pain

    Arthritic joints don't have a lot of cartilage to serve as cushioning, which can cause soreness if you've been on your feet all day. Symptom solution: Building muscle can help minimize pain, since the muscles will take some of the pressure of the joint, Herrera says.

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    You Can't Sit or Stand for Long Periods of Time

    This arthritis symptom can be a sign of two different types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, which is known as the-can't-stay-still arthritis (if you do sit still your joints gel up and fuse), says Ishimori. "In both cases, arthritis gets better with movement," says Herrera. "If it doesn't, it could be a stress fracture."

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    Your Knuckles Are Swollen

    Swollen knuckles are a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that affects mostly small joints. "RA eats away at the hands," says Ishimori. This form of arthritis is found in about 1 percent of the population, and you can develop it in your 30s.

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    Your Digits Look Like Sausages

    Reactive arthritis, another type of arthritis, usually develops after a bacterial infection or in psoriatic arthritis (the one golfer Phil Mickelson has), says Ishimori. Your immune system is basically in overdrive, attacking your joints, muscles, and tendons, and causing your fingers and toes to swell.

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    You Have Psoriasis

    The chronic skin condition characterized by dry, silvery-white scales could be a sign that psoriatic arthritis is in your future. Researchers aren't quite sure why some people with psoriasis go on to develop psoriasis arthritis and others don't, but if you already have the skin condition, be especially on the look out for the other symptoms mentioned here.

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    You Smoke

    This isn't exactly an arthritis symptom, but it is a sign that the disease could be on the horizon. "Heavy smokers have a higher risk factor of developing RA," Ishimori says. One theory why: Smoking causes inflammation in the body, contributing to the onset of arthritis, an inflammatory condition.

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    Joint Injuries Heal Slowly

    "If you already have arthritis, you may experience prolonged pain with a joint injury because arthritis is already affecting your joint mechanics," Herrera says. Herrera suggests discussing with your doctor any pain that persists. Your doctor can determine the cause and treat it accordingly.