There are several types of
arthritis. They all involve chronic inflammation of one or more joints. The
type of arthritis is determined by what is causing the symptoms.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. It
is caused by breakdown of the cartilage that protects the ends of bones where
they form a joint. This leads to pain and inflammation.
arthritis (RA) is another common
type of arthritis. It is an autoimmune disorder. The immune system
attacks the joints, causing inflammation.
Your primary care doctor
will likely conduct tests to pinpoint the kind of arthritis you might have.
Imaging tests can also be used to determine the severity of arthritis.
For most people, a
diagnosis of OA begins with a medical history and a physical exam. The physical
exam will look for:
- noises when you move your joints
- swelling in the joints
- loss of range of motion
- tenderness in the joints
- pain during movement
will also ask questions about when you have pain and how symptoms are affecting
your daily life.
Tests for Osteoarthritis | Imaging
Imaging tests are important
both for diagnosing OA and assessing its severity.
An X-ray can’t show cartilage loss directly. However, it can
show changes in the spacing between the bones. This is one of the most obvious
signs of OA. As cartilage degrades, the bones move closer together.
X-rays can also allow doctors to identify:
fluid in the joint
Bone spurs are growths at the end of joints. They can irritate
X-rays may not show early destructive changes that are better
seen with MRI technology. However, they are often used to track the progression
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), your doctor can see soft tissue damage. It is
possible to directly visualize changes not only in bone but also in:
uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed, three-dimensional
images of tissues.
Most cases of OA are diagnosed
with physical exams and imaging tests. However, lab tests can sometimes be
useful in ruling out other causes of joint pain.
Blood and urine tests can not diagnose OA. However, they can be
used to help confirm a diagnosis by ruling out other causes of arthritis such
type of arthritis (infectious, autoimmune, inflammatory, metabolic)
health problems (endocrine disorders, autoimmune diseases)
Blood tests can be used to identify:
antibodies associated with RA
Urine tests can check for levels of uric acid and other markers
Joint Fluid Analysis
Joint fluid is also called synovial fluid. It can be obtained by
inserting a needle into the joint space. The fluid can be examined for markers
of inflammation. It can also identify other causes of joint inflammation, such
as infection or gout.