Healthy Living

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

Key Takeaways

  • Blood tests are very simple and efficient when it comes to diagnosing arthritis.
  • X-rays are very efficient in showing deformations in the bones and joints, although they are most commonly used when the person is already affected with this disease, since they don't reveal early damage caused by arthritis. 
  • MRI scans can reveal arthritis in its early stages, so the person can start with treatments before the disease starts worsening.

Arthritis is the common term used to describe over a hundred types of ailments that affect the joints. There are several causes of arthritis including physical wear and tear, autoimmunity, infections, and faulty metabolism, among others. Arthritis is a progressive disease with no known cure.

Common Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms of arthritis include:

  1. Painful joints
  2. Swelling and inflammation in the joints
  3. Stiffness
  4. Reduced mobility
  5. Difficulty climbing stairs
  6. Difficulty forming a grip

Arthritis is a very serious disease if it’s not diagnosed in time. As we already know, not every pain can be qualified as an early sign of arthritis. For example, if you feel any pain in your joints, it may happen because you have hurt your joint before, or maybe you have been working all day around the house, and the swelling, fatigue, tenderness and stiffness in the joints may be caused by your exertions and exhaustion. Injuries like these need a day or two in order to completely heal. So, if these things happen, you don’t have to panic. However, if you have any of these symptoms, and you are not working too much, and you often have a problem getting up in the morning, then you should visit a doctor as soon as possible. Only the doctor can discover the early signs of arthritis and diagnose this disease in early or later stages.

Diagnosis

Because of the many different types and causes of arthritis, the doctor will need to determine the type of tests required to confirm the diagnosis. There are a few different ways to diagnose arthritis, and we are going to elaborate on them:

-          Blood test

-          X-rays

-          MRI scans

-          Urine test

-          CT scan

-          Biopsy

Blood Tests

Blood tests are very simple. They are also very efficient when it comes to diagnosing arthritis. First of all, the person who is possibly affected by arthritis needs to have some blood tests done before being prescribed medicine. Then, that person needs to have another blood test, after taking the medications. That way, the blood test results will show how the organism is reacting to that medication. If the medications have improved the first blood test results, then it is more than sure that the person is suffering from arthritis.

X-rays

X-rays are very useful in determining whether a person has arthritis, since they can show whether there are some bone deformations due to arthritis. X-rays are very efficient, although they are most commonly used when the person is already affected with this disease. While X-rays do not reveal early arthritic damage, they are often used in tracking the progression of the disease.

MRI Scans

An MRI scan, also known as Magnetic Resonance Imaging,  is another way to determine if someone is suffering from arthritis. Unlike X-rays, MRI scans can diagnose this disease in the early stages. This gives MRI scans an advantage over X-rays because they can discover arthritis in the early stages, so the person can start with treatments before the disease starts getting worse.

Urine Tests

Urine tests are most commonly examined along with blood tests. They can very efficiently determine if arthritis is present. Just like blood tests, urine tests can be used monitor the medical treatment and to see if there is some improvement.

CT Scans

CT scans are also known as Computerized Tomography scans can show a very detailed picture of a person's body. That's why the doctors can have a pretty good picture of what is causing your pain. A CT scan can show the whole skeleton and if there is even a slightest chance for you to be affected by arthritis, then the doctor will take precautions by prescribing you the proper therapy.

Biopsies

A biopsy is basically an examination of some tissue from your joints. The biopsy can be performed at any time, and it can help diagnose the arthritis at every stage. The person who is possibly suffering from arthritis can give a small sample from a tissue, from the joint the painful joint. Then, that sample is taken to the laboratory where will run through a couple of tests. If the analysis shows that signs of arthritis are present, then the doctor will complete the diagnosis so the person can start taking medications in order to prevent unwanted consequences.

Joint aspiration is a procedure wherein the doctor uses a fine needle to draw out fluid from the joints. This fluid can then be tested for any infections that could cause arthritis.

There are other ways in order to determine if arthritis is present, but these ones are the most efficient. There is no way to stop this disease, but there is always a way to contain it. This way, the pain will be present but significantly reduced. Remember that if you ever suspect that you may be suffering from arthritis, visit your doctor and let him run a couple of tests on you. If you do that, you will make your life easier.

Conclusion:

There are different types of arthritis and therefore they require different methods to be diagnosed. A general doctor who suspects that you might have arthritis might refer you to a specialist in joint problems like a rheumatologist or orthopedic surgeon. The doctor will first get your medical history by asking you a series of questions. These questions could include: when the symptoms started, if anyone in your immediate family has arthritis, whether were you undertaking any strenuous activity before the onset of symptoms, whether you are a smoker, whether just one joint or are many joints affected, etc.

Once the doctor has a better idea of your history, he or she will proceed to conduct a physical examination. A physical examination would typically involve the doctor examining the site of the pain and checking for swellings, redness, tenderness, external deformities, and other irregularities. The final step in confirming a diagnosis is to conduct further medical tests like blood tests, X-rays, or MRI scans. Osteoarthritis can easily be diagnosed by imaging tests like X-rays, MRI, and CT scans, while inflammatory forms of the disease like rheumatoid arthritis and metabolic forms like gout would require a blood test to confirm the diagnosis. A needle aspiration test is useful in confirming an infectious form of arthritis.