The onset of arthritic symptoms can be confusing for the patient and could take a lot of work on your doctor’s part to obtain a clear diagnosis and treatment plan suited for you.
Arthritis is an inflammatory disorder in which your autoimmune system attacks the tissue around joints causing deterioration. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis; rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the most common.
Symptoms of arthritis include joint swelling, joint tenderness, pain and/or stiffness of the joint(s) and limited range of motion in one or more joints.
If you suspect you may have arthritis, it is important to discuss concerns with your doctor to assure early treatment. Some questions you may want to ask include:
- How is arthritis diagnosed? Your doctor may order several tests to create a full clinical picture of your condition. Options include laboratory tests (blood, urine, joint fluid), imaging (X-rays, MRI), or arthroscopy.
- What type of arthritis do I have? Of the myriad of arthritic conditions, examples include, but are not limited to, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and gout (look for advocacy sheets on some of these).
- How is arthritis treated? Doctors will often prescribe medication, physical therapy, braces, or surgery.
- What is the long term risk? Extreme or advanced cases of arthritis could cause deformation of joints and severe weakening of weight-bearing joints making it difficult to perform routine daily tasks.
- What information should I share with my doctor if I suspect arthritis? It is important to keep track of symptoms, medications and supplements, what seems to help or worsen your condition, and personal and family medical history.
- Is there a cure for arthritis? There is no known cure for arthritis, but there are many treatment options, so it is important to work with your doctor or a rheumatoid specialist on a treatment plan that works for you.
- How can I have arthritis? I’m not old. The notion that arthritis affects only the aged is a misconception, in addition to thinking that it can be cured with changes in your diet or that it causes only minor aches and pains. Arthritis can be very painful, and while maintaining a good weight by eating well and exercising regularly can improve overall health, it is not true that you can eliminate arthritis with diet choices.
- Is there any research I can do on my own and what sources would you recommend? An arthritis diagnosis can be scary, frustrating, and depressing. Your doctors can suggest their favorite web sites and/or support groups for obtaining more information and helping you cope with arthritis.
www.about.com Rheumatoid arthritis/joint conditions
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