Pain is the main problem with degenerative arthritis. Initially, it is related to activity. Once activity begins pain is minor, but after resting for several minutes the pain and stiffness increase. When the condition worsens, pain may be present even at rest and may interfere with sleep. The joint may swell, fill with fluid and feel tight, especially following increased activity. When all the articular cartilage wears off the joint surface, a squeaking or grinding sound called crepitus may occur when the joint is moved.

Degenerative arthritis eventually affects the motion of a joint. The elbow joint is one of the most sensitive to injury and quickly becomes stiff and loses motion so that it becomes difficult to completely straighten the elbow. Later, bending may become affected as well.

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