What You Need to Know About Arthritis
What Are the Symptoms?You might have some form of arthritis if you have any of these possible symptoms:
- Lasting joint pain
- Joint swelling
- Joint stiffness
- Tenderness or pain when touching a joint
- Problems using or moving a joint normally
- Warmth and redness in a joint.
If any of these symptoms lasts longer than two weeks, see your regular doctor or a rheumatologist. If you have a fever, feel physically ill, suddenly have a swollen joint, or have problems using your joint, see your doctor sooner.
Any joint can be affected. However, certain types are more likely to affect certain joints. For example, ankylosing spondylitis most often affects the joints in the lower spine.
(Click Arthritis Symptoms for more information.)
How Is Arthritis Diagnosed?In order to diagnose arthritis, the healthcare provider will begin by asking a number of questions, then perform a physical exam, looking for possible signs. If he or she suspects arthritis, certain tests may be recommended. These tests can include:
- X-rays or other imaging tests
- Blood tests
- Other tests, such as synovial fluid testing.
Before making a definitive diagnosis, your healthcare provider will make sure you do not have other conditions that can share similar symptoms. A few of these conditions include:
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
- Osteomyelitis (infection of bone)
- Ligament problems.
(Click Diagnosing Arthritis for more information, including specific blood tests your healthcare provider may recommend.)