Can Arthritis Come On Suddenly?

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Arthritis is a common joint disorder that can be potential to cause disability. Even the most common type of arthritis (osteoarthritis) is top 3 leading cause of disability, according to CDC. In many cases, it develops gradually. But can it come on suddenly?


Like most things in joint disease, the symptoms of arthritis involve the affected joints. Depending on the severity and the type of arthritis, it can affect one or more than one joints.

Joint pain is the most common symptom. It can be followed with other symptoms such as stiffness and limited range of motion.

Since the disease can cause inflammation in the affected joint, the classic symptoms of inflammation can be the common symptoms of arthritis. These include redness, increased temperature around the affected joint, and swelling.

Understanding osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in general

Both OA and RA are the most common types of arthritis. They are different because the way of how they occur different, too. Therefore, they are treated with some different treatments.

RA is associated with the abnormal function of the body’s immune system. On the other hand, there is no any correlation between OA and autoimmune disorder. Instead, OA is thought as a consequence from the degenerated cartilage as the age.

To completely understand the differences between RA and OA, here is helpful section!

Can rheumatoid arthritis come on suddenly?

RA is more likely to develop gradually. It occurs when the immune system of your body mistakenly attack its own healthy tissue, in RA it attacks the lining in the joint called synovial membrane.

The affected synovial membrane can be inflamed, which then over time can affect other parts of the joint such as bones and cartilages within the joint. As the disease progresses, the ligaments and tendons around the joint can stretch and weaken, too.

Over time, all of these things can make the affected joint lose its alignment and shape. RA is currently incurable, but some treatment options are available to make it treatable and prevent it from getting worse.

How about OA?

As written before, OA is often associated with wear & tear of cartilage (a tough tissue that cushions the ends of bones in the joint) as the age. In other words, most cases of OA develop gradually as the age. See also how OA develops and progresses in this post!

So, both OA and RA tend to occur gradually. But in a few cases, they can come on suddenly, too.

If there is a specific trigger, OA may occur suddenly. For instance, if you have an injury from your sport activity, the injury may cause damage to the cartilage in the joint where you fall. This may cause OA unexpectedly.

Cartilage is a tough tissue, but any damage to this tissue can be very difficult to treat. For this reason, it’s important to use appropriate accessories (such as knee braces) during exercise, especially in extreme sports where you can risk your knees or other joints!

Gout often strikes suddenly

image_illustration246Gout is triggered by the movement of excess uric acids (these acids break down from purines, a protein that can be found in some foods) to the joint. They can become needle-like crystals that can cause inflammation in the joint where they stay.

Typically, it affects the joint of big toe. Nevertheless, other joints can be affected, too. These include joints of knee, ankles, wrists, and elbows.

If compared to OA and RA, gout is less common. But the symptoms of gout can be more painful. Fortunately, many times it is extremely treatable and has good prognosis.

The symptoms of gout often flare suddenly. These include sudden and intense attacks of pain, and followed with other symptoms of inflammation.

If you wonder whether sudden joint pain that you experience is caused by gout, visit this section to see how gout attacks and progresses from the first attack to become chronic (at advanced stage)!

One Comment
  1. richard imes
    September 26, 2023 | Reply

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