Diagnosing Infectious Arthritis

Healthcare providers considering an infectious arthritis diagnosis will typically start by focusing on a person's medical history and conducting a physical exam. During the exam, the healthcare provider will examine the person's joints, skin, reflexes, and muscle strength. Tests that can be used to diagnose this condition include imaging tests and a study of synovial fluid from the affected joint.

How Is Infectious Arthritis Diagnosed?

There is no one specific test that can be used for diagnosing infectious arthritis. Therefore, in order to make a diagnosis, a healthcare provider will usually begin by asking a number of questions. This is known as getting a person's medical history. Some of the questions the healthcare provider will ask may be related to:
  • Current or recent symptoms, including fever, cold sweats, extreme tiredness, a cough, or irritability (in infants)
  • Other medical conditions
  • Any recent surgeries
  • Any recent immunizations
  • Current medications
  • Recent travel
  • Sexual history
  • A family history of any medical conditions, including arthritis.
After asking these questions, the healthcare provider will likely perform a physical exam, looking for infectious arthritis symptoms. As the healthcare provider conducts the physical exam, he or she will assess the person's joints, skin, reflexes, and muscle strength.
After the medical history and physical exam, the healthcare provider may recommend certain tests to help make an infectious arthritis diagnosis.
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Infectious Arthritis Information

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