Onset of the disease is gradual and the symptoms develop slowly over a period of years. Women are more commonly affected than men.Symptoms may be intermittent i.e. patient may have pain free intervals between the symptoms.


The symptoms include :


  • Pain which usually gets worse after excessive use of the joint and better by rest. It is more common at night and in later stages interferes with the sleep. With the progress of disease there is complete loss of cartilage causing friction between the bones resulting in pain at rest or pain with limited motion.
  • Stiffness usually follows a phase of inactivity like sleep, sitting. Feels better by stretching out. Early morning stiffness is present but it rarely exceeds 30 minutes.
  • Creaking in the affected joint and a grinding sensation with joint motion.
  • Progressive degeneration of cartilage in knee joint can result in outward curvature of knees causing a deformity called as ‘bow legged’.
  • Bony spurs formed along the spine can irritate the spinal nerves causing severe pain, numbness, tingling in affected parts of the body.
  • Heberden’s nodes (bony enlargement of the small joint at the end of the fingers) and Bouchard’s nodes (bony enlargement of the middle joint of the finger) are characteristic of osteoarthritis.