Living with Arthritis: Don’t Delay to see your doctor
Because arthritis can get worse if left untreated, you need to see your doctor as early as possible to get a proper diagnosis. This will help you understand your arthritis and develop a plan for managing it. Early diagnosis and treatment will mean you can get early treatment to prevent serious irreversible joint damage and will limit the effects of arthritis on your life and help you stay active and independent.
What to expect when you go to the doctor?
When you first visit your doctor, you will be asked a number of questions about your symptoms including:
- How long have you experienced pain?
- Which joints are affected?
- When do you experience pain and what seems to cause it?
- What makes the joint feel better or worse?
- Does anybody else in your family have arthritis or joint pain?
What are the different types of tests?
There is no single test for arthritis, and diagnosis can be complicated. Your doctor will ask you about the difficulties you’ve been having, examine your joints and skin, test your muscle
strength and take a full medical history. They may then refer you for tests to get a better picture of what is going on.
These may include:
- A rheumatoid-factor test which tests for an antibody that is found in most people who have rheumatoid arthritis. If the test is negative, your doctor may want to repeat it 6 months to a year later. However, you can have a negative test but still have rheumatoid arthritis.
- Anti-CCP, which stands for anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody, is a blood test which helps your doctor confirm a diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis.
- Blood tests such as the Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) and C-Reactive Protein (CRP), which measure the level of inflammation in your body.
- Other blood tests and a urine test to make sure that you are otherwise healthy before you are put on medication.
- Synovial fluid analysis - to rule out other diseases.
- X-rays, ultrasound and MRI scans - to help your doctor determine the degree of joint and bone damage and to measure the progress of your disease.
Thank you to Arthritis Ireland for some statistics and information used in this article. Check www.arthritisireland.ie or Locall 1890 252 846 for more information
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans or log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591.