In addition to symptoms and a doctor's exam, blood tests and X-rays are commonly used to confirm rheumatoid arthritis. The majority of people with rheumatoid arthritis have an antibody called rheumatoid factor (RF) in their blood, although RF may also be present in other disorders. A new test for rheumatoid arthritis that measures levels of antibodies in the blood (called the anti-CCP test) is more specific and tends to be only elevated in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or in patients about to develop rheumatoid arthritis. The presence of anti-CCP antibodies can also be used to predict which patients will get more severe rheumatoid arthritis.
X-rays are used to diagnose osteoarthritis, typically revealing an uneven loss of cartilage and spurring of the underlying bone. Sometimes blood tests and joint aspiration (using a needle to draw a small sample of fluid from the joint for testing) are used to rule out other types of arthritis. If your doctor suspects infectious arthritis, testing a sample of fluid from the affected joint will usually confirm the diagnosis and guide treatment.
Despite the claims you may see or read sometimes, there is no magic arthritis diet. No single food or special eating plan can slow arthritis or reduce pain. A well-balanced diet is important for your overall health and energy level, of course. But when it comes to managing osteoarthritis, the single most important thing you can do is to maintain a healthy weight.
If you’ve dieted before, you already know that’s not easy. But arthritis sufferers have an added reason to try to drop even a few pounds...
American College of Rheumatology.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University.
The Center for Current Research.
National Internet Health.
Alternative Medicine Foundation.