If you are experiencing joint pain, swelling, or other abnormalities, you may have some form of arthritis. It’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible to get diagnosed and treated right away, because many of the most common forms of arthritis can cause lasting damage if left unchecked, but can successfully be managed and treated if caught early.
Initial symptoms might include swelling and/or redness, stiffness, and pain in the joints. Different types of arthritis are more likely to involve different joints, so pay attention to where you first started noticing symptoms and if they have spread, intensified, or reoccurred over time. Don’t forget that joints include your back and pelvis, as well as extremities.
Other symptoms can involve responses to inflammation in other parts of your body and feel like having the flu, including fatigue and fever, muscle aches and stiffness beyond that in the joints, loss of appetite and skin rash, irritation around the eyes, rashes, and anaemia.
Since arthritis broadly refers to any swelling or inflammation of the joints and there are hundreds of specific types within that umbrella category, you will need a qualified medical professional to make a specific diagnosis.
Visit your primary care physician to determine if concerns are worth investigating further. You will likely be referred to a specialist called a “rheumatologist” to make a specific diagnosis and help you find the best course of treatment for your condition.
A doctor will want to know your family history and anything you have observed or can remember related to your symptoms now or in the past—many types of arthritis are chronic and flare up repeatedly. They will mostly likely run a blood test to investigate inflammatory response and look for the presence of specific antibodies to help make a diagnosis. They may also run some type of imaging scan such as an x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI to check for damage or deterioration in the joints.
If you have swollen or painful joints and are searching for how to diagnose arthritis, the best thing you can do is see a doctor to investigate the likelihood of arthritis and seek treatment.