Arthritis involves pain and inflammation in a person’s joints, which might worsen over time and lead to chronic difficulties without treatment. For this reason, it’s important you get a comprehensive diagnosis; and a big part of this is understanding how the condition’s symptoms might manifest. The sooner you can get a diagnosis, the sooner you’ll be able to start treatment.
The symptoms of arthritis
The symptoms you experience depend upon the type of arthritis you have, of which there are many. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, where the body’s protective bone cartilage breaks down, leading to stiff and painful joints, alongside the development of bony growths. The second most common arthritis type is rheumatoid arthritis, where the body’s immune system attacks the joints, resulting in significant inflammation and pain.
If your joints are swollen, tender, stiff, or otherwise in pain for an extended period of time, it’s paramount that you get in touch with your GP. You might dismiss this as just a sign of age, or due to physical activity, but it can also be a major symptom of arthritis. These conditions could develop at any age, but they are more common in middle-aged people and older.
The diagnosis process
Once you suspect that you might have arthritis, arrange an appointment with your GP, as they can assess your joints and determine if this condition is the culprit, and which type of arthritis it is. They’ll ask about symptoms you’re experiencing, including the exact position of the pain, and if it gets any worse in different stances. If the pain is exactly on the joint, this is a significant sign.
Be honest and as accurate as possible with your answers, as this can determine the overall success of getting a correct diagnosis. They then examine your joints directly, looking for swelling and restricted movement in your limbs. If the doctor refers you for more tests, this can include blood tests, X-rays, MRIs, and even ultrasounds – all of these can help detect the condition of your joints, and determine the right treatment plan.
After taking in the test results, your GP (or other medical professional) figures out which drugs and treatments are likely to have the most success. They will then provide you with a prescription, possibly for steroids to help reduce swelling or your immune system’s overactivity. Getting a diagnosis is always important, so make sure to act quickly if you notice any significant arthritis symptoms.