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Diagnosing Arthritis

How Do I know If I Have Arthritis?

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.
 

Recommended Related to Arthritis

Understanding Arthritis Painkillers

When you have arthritis pain, you need relief. But with so many warnings in the news about painkillers, it's hard to know the best choice. Many medications that ease arthritis pain have the potential for health risks, including increased risk for heart attack, stomach problems, or infections. You have difficult decisions to make, whether you're fighting pain from osteoarthritis that comes with age -- or pain from rheumatoid arthritis, a debilitating immune disorder. Do you somehow tough out...

Read the Understanding Arthritis Painkillers article > >

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on August 09, 2014
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