58.5 million adults in the US have an arthritis diagnosis. That number is expected to increase to 78.4 million by 2040.
The pain this group of conditions causes can be unbearable. If you are one of them, you might be wondering how is arthritis diagnosed? The answer depends on the type. Doctors examine your joints and blood to determine the cause of your pain.
There are several other questions you might have about this complex condition. Fortunately, we have created this arthritis guide to help you learn more about it and how to get relief.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a word that means “joint inflammation.” It’s a category that includes over 100 diseases.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type. It occurs when the cartilage of bones wears away and becomes painful.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the joints. Inflammation begins in the joint lining but spreads to nearby tissue and other parts of the body such as the skin, eyes, and nerves.
Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid. It forms into needle-shaped crystals in the joints that cause it to swell and become painful.
Osteoarthritis typically comes with signs of inflammation such as pain, swelling, stiffness, warmth, and tenderness. Other types of arthritis symptoms include fatigue, fever, and a rash.
How is it Diagnosed?
An arthritis diagnosis starts with a look at your medical history and a physical exam. The doctor checks for swelling, redness, and warmth in your joints and checks how well you can move them.
The next step is often a blood or urine test. Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis may involve looking for antibodies known as RFs or rheumatoid factors and an anti-CCP test.
You may need imaging such as:
- CT scans
Your doctor can also offer you helpful arthritis tips after giving you an official diagnosis. They can recommend preventative measures and the best treatment methods.
What Are the Options for Arthritis Treatment?
A fitting follow-up question to how arthritis is diagnosed is how is it treated? There are several options, but the most common are medication, therapy, and surgery.
NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, relieve pain and reduce inflammation. They include ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.
Counterirritants contain menthol or capsaicin. Rubbing them on an aching joint reduces pain signals.
Steroids such as prednisone reduce inflammation and pain. They can be taken as a pill or injection. Side effects include bone thinning, weight gain, and diabetes.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or DMARDs slow the progression of the disease, especially rheumatoid arthritis. The most common side-effect is an increased risk of infection.
Physical therapy may help increase a joint’s range of motion and strengthen the muscles around it. You may also need a splint or brace to help you move.
Surgical options involve smoothing, realigning, replacing, and/or fusing the affected joints. Osteoarthritis alone leads to over 1 million hip and knee replacements every year.
Where Should I Go for an Arthritis Diagnosis?
Arthritis is more than a single condition. It’s a group of medical issues that cause inflammation of the joints with symptoms such as pain, heat, and swelling.
If you think you have it, you are probably looking for an official diagnosis The best way is a full examination followed by blood tests or imaging.
There are several treatment options, including medications, physical therapy, and surgery. The right one for you depends on the type of arthritis you have.
Victory Medical is a full-service team that’s ready to find and treat the cause of your pain. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.