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Arthritis, the diagnosis


To diagnose arthritis, your doctor will conduct a thorough history and physical examination to determine the affected joints. The presence of pain and stiffness in one or a few joints is the key to the diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA). OA can be a clue to the presence of lumps that appear at the end of the bone and joints of the middle fingers. Arthritic joints are painful if moved to extremes and can be thicker than normal. If joint pain involves both sides of the body, a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is more probable, and laboratory tests will be done to confirm the diagnosis. Special blood tests to detect a special antibody called rheumatoid factor (RF) can help confirm the presence of rheumatoid arthritis. Other blood tests may be used to detect the presence of other types of arthritis such as gout, lupus or rheumatoid spondylitis. X-rays can show bone spurs with osteoarthritis of the joints and can also be used to follow the progression of arthritis over time.


Treat and prevent arthritis

Unfortunately, there is no cure for most forms of arthritis. The goal of treatment is to reduce the symptoms of pain and inflammation with the help of exercise programs, physical therapy and medications. There are things you can do today to avoid the possibility of OA later in life. For example, keeping your weight under control may help to reduce stress on joints. Recent studies have shown that a weight gain of only 10 to 20 pounds more in adulthood increases the wear of the cartilage cushion in the joints and can lead to serious joint damage in the long run. Avoiding repetitive movements for long periods can help, but if repetitive movements are part of a work or leisure activities, proper training is important. If someone has a traumatic injury, they need medical care and rehabilitation to avoid further damage. Talk to a doctor about the proper use of ice, rest, heating pads, hot water bottles, and hot baths for the treatment of any injuries. Exercise programs to maintain muscle tone are useful for managing OA. These may include specific exercises prescribed by your doctor or physical therapist to strengthen muscles and improve range of motion. Walking is an excellent form of therapy for arthritis in the knees. In some cases, joint pain due to OA is often relieved by rest. Drugs for OA include a wide range of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. * Paracetamol is generally a good choice for long-term use. If acetaminophen is not effective or if the inflammation is present, acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenac can be recommended. Paracetamol and some forms of ASA and NSAIDs are available without a prescription, but always check with a physician or pharmacist before taking any of these drugs. Prescription painkillers such as morphine and oxycodone can help people who experience periods of acute pain. If other options have failed, local injections of corticosteroids into the affected joints are another treatment option. For severe cases, surgery such as hip or knee replacement may be necessary.


Source: http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/