Diagnosis and Treatment
Depending on the type of arthritis suspected, your doctor may suggest some of the following tests.
The analysis of different types of body fluids can help pinpoint the type of arthritis you have. Fluids commonly analyzed include:
Imaging tests can detect problems within the joint that may be causing your symptoms. Examples include:
- X-rays: X-rays may not reveal early arthritic damage, but are often used to track progression of the disease.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): In addition to bone, MRI’s can visualize soft tissues such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments.
In some cases, your doctor may look for damage in your joint by inserting a small, flexible tube, called an arthroscope, through an incision near your joint. The arthroscope transmits images from inside the joint to a video screen.
Arthritis treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and improving joint function. You may need to try several different treatments, or a combination of treatments, before you find what works best for you. A diagnosis of arthritis does not have to signal an end to the activities you enjoy.
- Medications: The medications used to treat arthritis vary depending on the type of arthritis.
- Therapy: Physical therapy can be helpful for some types of arthritis. Exercises can improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding joints.
- Surgery: If more conservative measures don't help, your doctor may suggest surgery, like a joint replacement. For more information about joint replacement visit the below links:
- Weight loss: If you're obese, losing weight will reduce the stress on your weight-bearing joints. This may increase your mobility and limit future joint injury.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can help keep your joints flexible. Swimming and water aerobics are often good choices because the buoyancy of the water reduces stress on weight-bearing joints.
- Heat and cold: Heating pads or ice packs may help relieve arthritis pain.
Visit the Arthritis Foundation website for local programs and classes.