Diagnosing arthritis is not always a straightforward matter, for there are roughly 100 types. Our doctor will also want to rule out diseases that cause similar symptoms. Some unfortunate patients will even have more than one type, which further complicates matters.
What Will the Diagnosis Involve?
The first step involves taking a very detailed medical history. We will ask about the severity and duration of the symptoms. We will also ask about the patient’s family history and their health habits. We may also ask about the patient’s recreational or travel habits. Some contact sports, like soccer or basketball, involve quick turns that can lead to joint injuries. Similarly, we will also ask about the patient’s occupation and if it requires a lot of standing or repetitive motion.
After that will come a physical exam that will include a very detailed joint evaluation. Our doctor will make note of which joints appear swollen or otherwise abnormal. He will check the joints for range of motion and tenderness.
If our doctor can’t make a diagnosis based on the physical exam and medical history, he will probably order blood tests to look for antibodies or check the level of inflammation. He may also order imaging tests to get a better look at the affected joints. In most cases, he will order an X-ray, but he may order an MRI or ultrasound. Our doctor will look for cartilage loss, changes in the joint, inflammation, tears in soft tissues and other abnormalities.
What is Osteoarthritis?
This is the most common type of arthritis, and it is sometimes described as a “wear and tear” disease because it is generally caused by aging. As a person gets older, the cartilage at the ends of their bones starts to break down. There is, therefore, less cartilage to cushion the joints, and movement becomes painful.
Osteoarthritis can also be caused by obesity or joint injuries. Regardless of the cause, the symptoms associated with the condition include pain, stiffness, swollen joints and difficulty moving the affected joint. Unlike some other types, a patient with osteoarthritis does not feel ill or abnormally tired.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
This is another common type of arthritis, and it is an autoimmune system disorder. For reasons still unknown to scientists, the immune system attacks and damages the joints. The resultant symptoms of pain, swollen joints and stiffness may develop suddenly or gradually. The patient may also feel tired and have a reduced appetite.
What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
This type is linked to the disease psoriasis, which is also an autoimmune disorder. Psoriasis affects the skin, and most patients with psoriatic arthritis develop the skin symptoms first. Patients with this type of the condition generally develop it when they are between 30 and 50 years old. They usually develop swollen toes and fingers.
Treating Your Condition
If you have arthritis, make an appointment at Arora Hand Surgery to learn about your treatment options. We have offices in West Bloomfield, Warren, Howell, and Macomb. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!