Arthritis can have a wide variety of symptoms and causes. There are also many different types of the condition, so our doctors will need as much information as you can give them to provide an accurate diagnosis for you.
By asking the right questions and eliminating other similar conditions, they can make sure you get the help you need.
How our doctors diagnose arthritis
A doctor will discuss all of your symptoms, examine the affected joints, which they can look at during a video consultation, and gather all the relevant information.
They will discuss your medical history and identify if there are any factors that make you more at risk of arthritis. Family history, past injuries and medications you are currently taking are all essential pieces of information for the doctor to diagnose accurately.
The doctor will want to know how your symptoms affect your daily life, such as is it stopping you from doing the things you need to do? You should let the doctor know when you first noticed the problem and how long it has been happening.
If the doctor cannot make a diagnosis during a video consultation, for example, if you need a physical examination, they can refer you for this. For autoimmune diseases or suspected rheumatoid arthritis, you may be referred for blood tests - this will also help to rule out any other possible causes or to find out how severe your problem is.
Other tests may include an X-ray, which show up bone damage or other abnormalities. You may also be sent for an MRI scan to look for inflammation. CT scans may also be recommend, which lets doctors and specialists look at detailed pictures of your skeleton and tissues.
Sometimes a small sample of the tissue from around the joint is taken for analysis (this is called a biopsy), or fluid can be extracted from the joint to look for infection, or uric acid in the case of gout.
Why getting a diagnosis is important
It is important to identify the cause of your joint pain or joint stiffness, as many types of arthritis can get progressively worse. Seeking treatment as soon as you notice symptoms can help to slow down the condition and keep the mobility in the affected joints for as long as possible.
Whichever type of arthritis you may think that you have, it is always best to seek a medical opinion to make sure you don’t do anything that could make the problem worse.