Many people know that arthritis can cause painful, creaky, and stiff joints, but what might not be known to many is that it is a sneaky disease: its symptoms often begin slowly and subtly over a period of weeks or months, and worsen over time.
That is why if you feel any form of joint pain, particularly if it lasts for more than three days and is accompanied by swelling and stiffness, consider visiting an orthopedic doctor for a thorough evaluation. It is an important step toward slowing the progression of the disease and lowering your risk for disability.
Below, we’ll discuss the different types of tests your orthopedic doctor may carry out or order to diagnose arthritis.
After assessing your medical history, your orthopedic doctor may proceed with checking the affected area for swelling, redness, and warmth. Your doctor may also check how well you can move your joints using a device known as a goniometer. In addition, your doctor may instruct you to move around to see if the pain alters your gait or posture.
Medical imaging tests are a useful tool for detecting arthritis even in its early stages as well as assessing its severity.
The following are the most common imaging techniques used in evaluating and diagnosing arthritis.
- X-Ray – X-ray imaging uses a small amount of radiation to scan for bone damage or cartilage problems. X-rays can also detect joint space narrowing, which is one of the main characteristics of arthritis.
Because X-rays are affordable and easily available, they are often the first imaging method used to diagnose and monitor the progression of osteoarthritis (OA) and other forms of inflammatory arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Computerized tomography (CT) – CT scans are also useful in diagnosing arthritis, as they detect cartilage loss and the presence of bone spurs – bony lumps that often form next to arthritic joints.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – This medical imaging method uses radio waves and powerful magnets to produce detailed images of the musculoskeletal system: bones, joints, and soft tissues. MRI scans allow for the early detection of joint erosion, especially in patients with RA.
Not every type of arthritis requires lab tests for diagnosis, but your orthopedic doctor may still order them to help rule out other types of arthritis or joint problems that have similar symptoms.
Your doctor may order any of the following laboratory tests to help diagnose and determine the exact type of arthritis you have:
- Rheumatoid factor (RF) – This test detects the presence of autoantibodies, which mistakenly target and react with a person’s own tissues or organs.
- Uric acid testing – This test is done to measure the amount of uric acid in your blood to rule out or confirm gout.
Arthritis Treatment near Me in Plantation, FL
We offer X-rays, among many other ancillary services, because we recognize that timely diagnosis is crucial for ensuring that patients with musculoskeletal problems, including arthritis, receive early intervention – which translate into effective symptom management and, ultimately, improved health outcomes.
Call (954) 476-8800 now to arrange a consultation with one of our orthopedic doctors. You may also submit an appointment request by filling out this convenient online form.