How Are You Diagnosed?
Having Arthritis can really hinder your ability to live a normal comfortable life, which means having a quick diagnosis can lead to more successful treatments. you’re probably wondering “How do doctors diagnose Arthritis?” This can be very simple, but not always. There are many stages of tests your doctor might have in store for you. Your doctor will examine your symptoms, and perform a physical exam to check for swollen joints or loss of motion. He may also use blood samples if he has the suspicion of you having Rheumatoid Arthritis. X-rays can also confirm his diagnosis since it is the easiest way to view your joints.
What Kind Of Laboratory Tests Are Available?
The examination of different types of body fluids can help diagnose what type of arthritis you may have. This includes blood, urine, and joint fluid. To collect a sample of your joint fluid, your doctor will cleanse and numb the area before inserting a needle into your joint to remove some fluid (Thank god for anesthesia). Besides this, there are numerous other tests that can help detect problems within your joint that can be causing your symptoms. For example:
- X-rays. Using low levels of radiation to see right down to the bone, X-rays can show cartilage loss and bone damage. X-rays won’t be able to see the early stages of arthritis, but they are used to track the progression of the disease.
- Computerized tomography (CT). CT scanners take X-rays from many different angles and combine the information to create a cross-section view of your bones. CTs can see both bone and the surrounding tissue.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Combining radio waves with a magnetic field, MRI’s can produce a more accurate cross-sectional image of cartilage, tendons, and bone.
- Ultrasound. This technology uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of our cartilage. Ultrasound also is used to guide the needle placement for when the doctor needs to extract joint juice.
How Is Arthritis Treated?
There is a lot of treatments made available to us to ease the pain of Arthritis patients. Treatment generally includes physical therapy, exercise, drugs, and in extreme measures surgery! The main focus is on relieving the symptoms and improving the function of the patient’s joints. Your doctor might ask you to try different treatments as different people benefit from different treatments. The most common treatment being medications. The medication can vary from person to person and it also depends on the type of Arthritis. Never fear there is more than enough options to choose from! Consider the following:
- Prescribed painkillers: These types of medication help reduce pain, but have no effect on inflammation. For Example medication such as acetaminophen, oxycodone, or hydrocodone.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These medications reduce both pain and inflammation. These are really great because you can get them over-the-counter such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin etc..) Other types of NSAIDs are only made available by your doctors using a prescription.
- Counterirritants: These are creams and ointments, most of these ointments contain menthol or capsaicin, the ingredient that makes peppers hot. Rubbing these products on the skin over your aching joint may help stop the pain from the joints.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): These are only used to treat rheumatoid arthritis because they slow your immune system from attacking your joints.
- Biologic response modifiers: These are typically used with DMARDs mentioned above, these are genetically engineered drugs that target various protein molecules that are involved with the immune system.
- Corticosteroids: Commonly known as cortisone, these reduce inflammation and suppresses the immune system. Corticosteroids can be taken orally or be injected directly into the joint/joints.
What Kind Of Surgeries Are Available?
Arthroscopy: This is a surgical procedure that is performed by surgeons to see damaged or deteriorated joints. A small incision is made to be used as a point of entry, this is way more convenient for surgeons that “open” surgery so this might be your doctor’s first option. A little camera called an arthroscope is then inserted through the small incision which allows the surgeon to see the interior of the joint and see the damage. With this information, your doctors can perform the correct surgery needed.
Joint Replacement: Joint replacement surgery does exactly what you think, surgeons replace a deteriorated joint with a solid metal one. This procedure usually takes a few hours and takes place in a hospital or in a surgery center. During the surgery, the damaged joints and bones are removed and replaced with metal ones. For example, a hip is replaced with a metal ball attached to a metal stem that is fitted into the femur, and a plastic socket is implanted into the pelvis, replacing the damaged socket.
Joint Fusion: Also known Arthrodesis, A fusion is usually done as a last resort after medications and other pain treatments don’t work. The extreme pain which favors fusion surgery is felt when bone rubs on the bone after cartilage has significantly worn away. At this point in the disease, there is damage clearly visible on the bones which causes extreme pain.
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