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Arthritis

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis

Depending on the type of arthritis suspected, your doctor may suggest some of the following tests.

Laboratory Tests

picture of doctor looking at x-rays

The analysis of different types of body fluids can help pinpoint the type of arthritis you have. Fluids commonly analyzed include:

  • Blood
  • Urine
  • Joint fluid

Imaging

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.

Arthroscopy

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.

Treatment

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.

Self-Management

Visit the Arthritis Foundation external link website for local programs and classes.

 



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