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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

When You Should See a Doctor About Arthritis Symptoms

The pain and stiffness come on quickly, whether from an injury or an unknown cause; you may be experiencing the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or another arthritic condition. The pain is accompanied by fever; you may have infectious arthritis. You notice pain and stiffness in your arms, legs, or back after sitting for short periods or after a night's sleep; you may be developing rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or another arthritic condition. A child develops rash...

Read the When You Should See a Doctor About Arthritis Symptoms article > >

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on August 09, 2014
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