Because arthritis affects the joints and musculoskeletal system, many forms of arthritis cause symptoms in the leg. The leg problem may only be part of the disease, as with rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder that affects the entire body; or the arthritis can be centered in the leg, as with osteoarthritis. A doctor can determine if arthritis is the cause of the leg symptoms and what type of arthritis it is.
Swelling around an arthritic joint and its lining is a possible symptom of arthritis. Inflammation may or may not be seen just by looking at the leg, but it can often be felt. Anti-inflammatory medications, available over-the-counter and in prescription strength, will ease the swelling from arthritis.
Pain is a common symptom of arthritis in the leg. Depending on the type of arthritis, it can be a dull ache or something much more severe. Pain from arthritis can be from the bone or muscles within the leg. When leg pain is due to arthritis, stretching will sometimes help ease it.
Arthritis can deteriorate the joints and cartilage in the leg, making walking difficult. A limited range of movement in the leg is a symptom of arthritis, because the knee joints are often affected by the disease and the knee helps the legs move.
Swelling, pain and joint deterioration can all cause stiffness in the leg. Sometimes the stiffness is just in the morning, because the leg has been mobilized all night. Stiffness in the leg is a symptom of arthritis that may also occur after sitting or standing for too long.
Leg pain can have many different causes, including dangerous blood clots or blocked arteries. Unusual or severe pain or swelling in the leg, or symptoms that worsen despite treatment should be reported to a physician immediately.