It's hard to know if and how fast arthritis will get worse. Symptoms may come and go, stay the same, or get worse over time.
At first, you may have pain only when you are active. Over time, you may also have pain when you are resting. Joints can become stiff, and you may lose the full range of motion you used to have. Joints can become misshapen over time, especially the small joints of the hands and feet.
If you have arthritis in your fingers, the joints at the tip or middle part of your fingers may get bigger and form bumps. These are known as Heberden's and Bouchard's nodes.
Arthritis of the spine can also narrow the openings that make space for the spinal cord and for the nerves that branch off the spinal cord (spinal nerves). This narrowing is called spinal stenosis. It can lead to pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves. This pressure can cause pain, weakness, or numbness.
Even though there is no cure for arthritis, most people can manage their symptoms with medicine and lifestyle changes. But in a few people, arthritis may get painful enough that they decide to have surgery.