Hello, I'm Dr. Robert Fenell, founder of HandAndFootClinicsOfAmerica.com, and I'm here today on behalf of About.com to talk to you about the early signs and symptoms of arthritis.Sometimes, patients may begin to experience early onset symptoms related to arthritis, but yet they don't realize they are suffering with the early symptoms of arthritis. So what exactly is arthritis? Let's break the word apart: "Arthro" means joint; "Itis" means inflammation. So, joint inflammation is the accurate definition or description of arthritis. There are many different types of arthritis, but a couple of the more common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease, occurs usually in one or maybe a couple of joints of the body, with no real relationship to one joint or the other. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, will usually affect similar joints on opposite sides of the body. So if one hand or wrist hurts, so will the other one, most times.Osteoarthritis will usually present with increased stiffness, pain and discomfort at later hours of the day, usually with increased activities and rigors of life. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, will usually present with increased stiffness and pain within the first 1-2 hours upon waking in the morning. Rheumatoid arthritis will usually start out affecting the small bones and joints of the hand and wrist, or in the foot and ankle area. Osteoarthritis many times starts in the knee joint, but can really affect any joint in the body, depending on where prior accidents and injuries may have taken place.Osteoarthritis is much more common than rheumatoid arthritis. However, rheumatoid arthritis can have much more serious implications associated with it, because it not only affects the joints, but also affects many of the organ systems of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis also originates in the blood, due to rheumatoid factor or other autoimmune dysfunctions associated with the body's immune complexes. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, starts at the joint level and is not related to any other autoimmune or inflammatory process in the circulatory system. If you believe that you might be suffering with early signs and symptoms of arthritis, it would be a good idea to consult with your primary care physician so they can do the necessary testing to diagnose your condition appropriately.I'd like to thank you for watching this video today. If you would like to learn more or find more information, visit us online at About.com.