How Is Arthritis Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of arthritis is the first step toward successful treatment. To diagnose arthritis, your doctor will consider your symptoms, perform a physical exam to check for swollen joints or loss of motion, and use blood tests and X-rays to confirm the diagnosis. X-rays and blood tests also help distinguish the type of arthritis you have. For example, most people with rheumatoid arthritis have antibodies called rheumatoid factors (RF) in their blood, although RF may also be present in other disorders.
X-rays are used to diagnose osteoarthritis, typically revealing a loss of cartilage, bone spurs, and in extreme cases, bone rubbing against bone. Sometimes, joint aspiration (using a needle to draw a small sample of fluid from the joint for testing) is used to rule out other types of arthritis. If your doctor suspects infectious arthritis as a complication of some other disease, testing a sample of fluid from the affected joint will usually confirm the diagnosis and determine how it will be treated.
How Is Arthritis Treated?

Treatment of arthritis generally includes rest, occupational or physical therapy, exercise, drugs, and sometimes surgery to correct joint damage.Treatments for osteoarthritis generally can help relieve pain and stiffness, but the disease may continue to progress. The same was true for rheumatoid arthritis in the past, but newer treatments for rheumatoid arthritis have been able to slow or stop the progression of arthritis damage.

How Is Arthritis Diagnosed?
How Is Arthritis Treated?
Arthritis Treatment: Occupational Therapy
Arthritis Treatment: Medicine
Arthritis Treatment: Surgery
Non-Medical Management of Arthritis Pain
Alternative Medicine for Arthritis
Home Remedies for Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms and Signs
While early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can actually be mimicked by other diseases, the symptoms are very characteristic of rheumatoid disease. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and signs include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Joint tenderness
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint redness
  • Joint warmth
  • Stiffness of joints, particularly worse in the morning
  • Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
  • Both sides of the body affected (symmetric)