How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

No matter what type of arthritis you have, your joints will be inflamed and painful. The most common type is osteoarthritis. Other types are related to autoimmune conditions. Getting an accurate diagnosis is a major factor in getting effective treatment. Dr. David Galpern can guide you through the process of making sure you know exactly what is going on and how to treat your aching joints.

As a board-certified hand and upper extremity surgeon, Dr. Galpern will help you feel at ease during your initial consultation and support you through every step of determining the exact cause of your discomfort.

What is Arthritis?

The two most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). OA, often referred to as arthritis, is when inflammation happens in your joints. You have cartilage between your bones that acts as a cushion. When this cushion wears out and grows thin, your bones will rub against each other, creating painful friction and swelling. This can impact your hands, fingers, and even elbows. The carpometacarpal joint in your hand is particularly susceptible. Risk factors for OA include age, genetics, injuries, and obesity.

RA is an autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks your joints and their surrounding membranes. It occurs on both sides of your body and happens in your wrists, knees, and fingers. It can even harm your internal organs. Other types of autoimmune-related conditions include juvenile arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and lupus.

Diagnosing Arthritis

Your first step at diagnosing your arthritis begins with a consultation with a medical professional, such as Dr. Galpern. There, you will discuss your health history, and then you will undergo a comprehensive physical exam to check for redness, swelling, and warmth in your joints. Dr. Galpern will order blood tests because many autoimmune diseases have specific markers that can give a definitive diagnosis. Common blood tests include rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies, C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation Rate (ESR), and a complete blood count (CBC).

Diagnostic imaging may include X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasound. You may even be asked to provide a sample of your joint fluid. X-rays and CT scans can reveal joint damage, such as cartilage loss, bone spurs, and changes in bone density. MRIs provide detailed pictures of soft tissues, helping to detect early joint damage. Ultrasound can visualize inflammation and joint damage, particularly in soft tissues. Joint aspiration (arthrocentesis) can detect signs of inflammation, infection, or crystal deposits, as in the case of gout.

Typically, you will only need an X-ray. Dr. Galpern may order additional tests to confirm the diagnosis if needed.

Ask About Getting Your Arthritis Diagnosed Today

Joint pain and swelling may indicate that you have arthritis. If so, Dr. Galpern can help you get diagnosed and on your journey to treatment. He has been serving patients in the West End of Richmond for years and can help you get back to enjoying your life.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Galpern, call our office today.

Comprehensive Hand Surgery
Phone(804) 506-3050
2819 North Parham Road Richmond Suite 100, VA 23294 Get Directions