Pain is the cardinal sign of all of types of arthritis. While everyone who has arthritis describes the pain somewhat differently, it is generally described as dull and constant, with periods of sharp pain.
The location of pain is often a key to the diagnosis.
- If only one joint is affected, then it increases the likelihood of osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease), gout, pseudogout or infectious arthritis rather than rheumatoid arthritis.
- Gout typically strikes the toes, especially the big toe, and ankles, although any joint may be affected.
- Pseudogout is more common in the knees, but can also occur in any joint.
- Infectious arthritis typically strikes the largest joints in the body such as the knees and hips, but can be found in any joint.
(Degenerative Joint Disease) typically causes pain in the major joints of the body like the knees and hips, but can also be found in the shoulders, elbows and fingers in someone who has performed repetitive tasks with their upper body (like farming or assembly-line work).
Rheumatoid arthritis pain typically appears in the same joint on both sides of the body, and attacks the hands, wrists, elbows, feet, knees and neck.