Symptoms of osteoarthritis in the wrist include swelling, pain, limited motion and weakness, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Signs of rheumatoid arthritis in the wrist are the aforementioned symptoms plus pain, swelling and stiffness in the knuckle joints of the hand. Osteoarthritis normally confines itself to just the wrist, whereas rheumatoid arthritis spreads to the knuckles.
Cleveland Clinic explains that rheumatoid arthritis normally causes more long-lasting symptoms in the morning which leads to more redness and stiffness in the wrist. Rheumatoid arthritis of the wrist may also lead to deformities in the joints that reduce a patient's ability to use the hand.
Early stages of wrist arthritis include pain that comes and goes. This pain is made worse when a patient grips heavy objects. Resting the wrist abates these early symptoms without medication. As the disease progresses, pain and discomfort get worse and become constant, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Loss of motion in the wrist follows the initial pain symptoms. Cleveland Clinic explains pain decreases when stiffness increases. As the joint loses cartilage, patients may hear noises such as grinding, clicking or cracking. Inflammation, redness and swelling occur when there is damage to surrounding tissues.
Doctors diagnose wrist arthritis by studying family history, looking at x-rays and examining movement of the joint. Cleveland Clinic indicates a doctor takes a blood sample to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.