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How is arthritis diagnosed?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

If you're experiencing symptoms of any form of arthritis, it's probably best to see a doctor. Some secondary symptoms of arthritis, such as fever, weight loss, rash and difficulty breathing, can be an indication of another problem, so it's important to have a doctor properly diagnose your condition. If your doctor does determine that it may be arthritis, you may be referred to a rheumatologist, or an arthritis specialist. It's important to get medical attention as early as possible to prevent potential bone loss or loss of range of motion.

Deborah Davis, DNP
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

The first step in the diagnosis of arthritis is a meeting between the patient and the doctor. The doctor will review the history of symptoms, examine the joints for inflammation and deformity as well as ask questions about or examine other parts of the body for inflammation or signs of diseases that can affect other body areas. Furthermore certain blood, urine, joint fluid and/or X-ray tests might be ordered. The diagnosis will be based on the pattern of symptoms, the distribution of the inflamed joints and any blood and X-ray findings. Several visits may be necessary before the doctor can be certain of the diagnosis. A doctor with special training in arthritis and related diseases is called a rheumatologist.

Dr. Grant Cooper, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialist

Most people with straightforward signs and symptoms of arthritis may not require more than an X-ray. However, your physician will make that determination in order to help ensure that a more serious underlying disorder does not go undiagnosed and untreated. In addition to X-rays, CT scans and/or MRIs, your doctor might order blood tests to help rule out infection, types of arthritis other than osteoarthritis, cancer and other problems.

The Arthritis Handbook: Improve Your Health and Manage the Pain of Osteoarthritis (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

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The Arthritis Handbook: Improve Your Health and Manage the Pain of Osteoarthritis (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

According to conventional wisdom, arthritis pain is an inevitable part of aging. Not so, says Dr. Grant Cooper in this practical, accessible guide. For those who do develop osteoarthritic conditions,...

Arthritis can be diagnosed with a simple physical exam and review of your medical history. If any questions remain, lab work and imaging may be indicated.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.