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Readers Respond: Describe What Osteoarthritis Pain Feels Like

Responses: 19

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Updated June 05, 2010

Osteoarthritis can be quite painful. But truly that depends on the extent of the joint damage. The pain is not the same for every person who has osteoarthritis, nor does any individual experience the pain exactly the same every day.

Most people describe osteoarthritis pain as achy, not sharp. Some feel osteoarthritis pain is mild, while others describe it as intense. If someone asked you to describe your osteoarthritis pain and what it feels like, what would you say?

Pain

I'm a mess, pain in all joints but knees and ankles worse, no proper sleep, gets depressing.
—Guest KARENZA

No knees to dance

Dancing has been my passion. I also managed to get a 2nd degree black belt. Now, I am lucky if I can walk up the stairs. I am 62, have tons of energy and yearn to move. I have had arthritis for at least 20 years. I have been told I am too young to have knee replacements for years now. Next time I go in I will not leave the office until I get results. I can't sleep at night . Both knees throb with a sickening deep thump. I feel like a hot knife is trying to trim off my knee cap. Both knee caps feel like they have been smashed with a hammer. There are ladies that dance in my group at the age of 85... and I have to sit. It is so awful. I lost my family at 15, I had cancer .... so many more things.... and I have had people come up to me on the street and ask why I am not smiling more.... and that I just need to do tapping and be happy and that is it..??? I am having a hard time getting there... I teach, love kids and feel it is very valuable...but I can hardly walk any more.
—Guest doreenlise

OA pain

Everyday I have some pain. My neck, back, arm, shoulder, bottom of my right foot, my lower back, buttocks, thigh, and calf. I especially hate the tingling in my hands and numb feeling. I can't understand how I can work a job in this condition!
—Guest janet

OA Pain

The pain is just unbearable. I have it in both knees, like most others keeps me awake at night, then dread waking up just like trying to walk while someone pushing a red hot knife through the knee. I'd like the last 25 years of my life back but that's not going to happen. I've only another fifteen years to wait till I can have knee replacements done but from what I've heard of those, isn't that good, so I guess like a lot of other people, we, l just have to get addicted to a point where we just take pain killers.
—Guest paul

I'm only 30

I was never a sick child, I've always eaten healthy, and I've never broken a bone... But I've come to realize this disease doesn't care who we are or how well we treated our bodies. It started when I was 26ish with pain in my thumbs and index fingers (only during winter months and typically only in the morning). Now it is January 31st and I've had it everyday, all day, all month. My knees have ached occasionally over the years but it hurts now to just bend over and pet the dog, climb stairs, or ride a bike. Oddest new occurrence: Last night at the movies while just sitting there my left hand was just laying across my lap and my left thumb was elevated on my purse and it GOT STUCK for just a second. It hurt so bad to stretch it out. This truly is awful and as some of you mentioned, it's getting harder to mentally accept this as something I could live with. I've been told it'll only get worse. And I used to be such an optimistic person...
—Guest PLW

Unbearable

Boy oh boy, are you talking about pain. Every night I have to sleep with a pillow between my legs, because if they touch each other it's murder. If I'm lucky enough to fall asleep at night it's not for very long, the pain is so massive and disruptive it wakes me out of my sleep even when I take sleeping aids. And in the daytime, whether I am sitting or standing, it's constant pain. I suffer with tricompartmental osteoarthritis of the knees. Was a letter carrier for 24 years and they want to tell me that climbing all those stairs for all those years has no bearing on my condition HUH? Anyway whoever suffers with this disease has my deepest sympathy, because if it is anything like what I am experiencing, it's unbearable. I have had a meniscus repair and that eased my pain some, but I think I'll have knee surgery just as soon as I can get OWCP to approve my claim. Please keep me in your prayers, and I'll keep you in mine.
—Guest Lamar A. Larke

Living with pain from OA in both knees

I think death would be easier than living w this type of crippling pain. I'm 48yrs old and my life as I knew it is over due to this disease.
—Guest mk

Osteoarthritis pain

So many people just don't understand OA. It's not just the cold rainy days that hurt...It's the sunny ones at 80 degrees and many of the days in between. You sit on the side of the bed every morning and wonder what will hurt today. Hands one day, knees the next, back everyday but how bad. Some days it's the whole body aching. Walk a little to loosen up..walk too much and you're down all the next day. And don't get in and out of the car too many times. Shopping can be a nightmare. If the store doesn't have a scooter, I don't shop there. And don't forget the fear of going out alone. So many "what if's". What if I fall? What if I need help reaching? What if I need to sit quickly? Every day is an uphill climb. Some days everything hurts. I just wish more people understood.
—Guest Bonnie

Hands and Feet

My issues are in both hands and feet. Some days are worse than others, but I am at a point (at 46 years old) that I am going to need to use a cane to help me walk due to the pain if I attempt to bend my feet in any way. I take short steps to keep from falling. My hands throb and sometimes I will get sharp pains either up my fingers or down my legs into my feet. I still work full time but wonder how much longer I can keep it up and what I will do if someone walks in while I am sitting at work, crying from the pain and throbbing of my limbs. I wake up in the middle of the night, in severe pain and sometimes with my hands/feet locked and unable to move them. It scares me! Its a waking nightmare! And it seems to be getting worse so quickly I don't know what to do! What was it like to be "normal"? I have forgotten...now I'm just scared.
—Guest Toni W

Undescribable pain

My thumbs hurt so bad it's unbearable. I have degenerative disc disease in my neck and back. I have had two discs replaced in my neck and fused..titanium plate and screws. I thought I knew pain but my thumbs have introduced me to a whole new world of pain. Nothing seems to help!!! There is no way around it... you use your hands for everything. I get bad spasms and drop things multiple times daily! It is beyond frustrating. Any suggestions?????????::(
—Guest T

Pain! Pain! Pain!

I have arthritis in my fingers and suffer sharp, shooting pains so bad that it brings tears to my eyes. My hands, which used to be beautiful are now bent and misshapen. Sometimes I feel so frustrated about this and worry about the future if I am not able to do things for myself.
—mmpbaron

OA pain

I suffered a stress fracture in my foot the week before a partial knee replacement. I popped the bone back in place, went home from the gym and put on hard sole shoes. I never told my ortho doc because I was afraid he would postpone surgery. I told a friend months later and she was shocked that I was able to withstand the pain of a broken bone. It didn't hurt any worse that the pain in my knee. When I got new orthotics four months later, podiatrist x-rayed my foot to humor me and came back surprised and showed me where the fracture was. The pain of OA can be excruciating. I wake up in the mornings dreading to put my feet on the floor because of OA in my feet. I need to find a doctor who understands what I'm saying about the pain.
—wallacemathteach

Achy *and* sharp

I have mild osteoarthritis in numerous joints, including my neck, which is rarely a sharp pain. But right now the pain in my hands from the thumb arthritis is both achy and sharp. Really painful. Crunchy, sometimes one of them has a spasm. I have too many work years left, working in computer technology, for this!
—acter

Whole body stiff, pain, grating sound

I AM 55 YEARS AND SUFFER FROM VERY WEAK OSTEOPOROSIS AND THE TREATMENT OF BONIVA MONTHLY TABLETS DID NOT WORK AND ALSO EXPERIENCE THESE SYMPTOMS . I EXPERIENCE JOINT PAIN AND STIFFNESS IN MY SPINE, NECK, LOWER BACK, SIDES OF MY KNEES AND HIPS. SOMETIMES FEELING HELPLESS, LIMITATION ON DAILY ACTIVITIES, JOB LIMITATION, ALSO EXPERIENCE JOINT STIFFNESS PARTICULARLY WHEN I FIRST WAKE UP IN THE MORNING OR HAVE BEEN IN ONE POSITION FOR A LONG TIME. I FEEL THE PAIN AT THE SIDES OF MY KNEE WHEN I GO UP AND DOWN THE STAIRS. FEELING PAIN EVEN AT NIGHT WHEN I AM RESTING THAT WAKES ME UP AND FEEL GRATING SOUND ALL OF MY BODY. MAKE ME UNCOFORTABLE THANK YOU FOR THIS WEBSITE
—Guest Carmela Saliba

Osteoarthiritis pain

The pain is just like Terry Ryder, Hennacat and rossdlannan descibed it. I have tried having a bath. It works while I'm in tub but when I retire at night the pain comes back and I find it very difficult to turn to a comfortable position. I have just started on a course of glucosamine forte 1500 and fish oil 1000 to see how that goes before I complain to my doctor but I will still make him aware of what I'm doing to help myself first before I consider the knife.
—mareekennedy
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