Here’s How Arthritis is Diagnosed


If you’re worried you might have arthritis, you’re in good company. Nearly one-quarter of all American adults have this painful joint condition, which causes swelling, stiffness, and pain. 

The board-certified internal medicine providers at Prima Medicine in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, specialize in the treatment of this painful joint condition. We also know that before you can begin effective treatment, it’s essential to have an accurate diagnosis. 

Keep reading to learn how your internal medicine physician diagnoses arthritis and the different ways we can help you reclaim your quality of life.  

Understanding how arthritis is diagnosed

There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but it’s basically a condition in which there is joint inflammation. Because it’s a complex condition and there are so many types, diagnosing it isn’t always easy.

However, internal medicine providers have a deep understanding of arthritis and of conditions that have similar symptoms, which enables them to diagnose and treat this complicated condition. 

Your Prima Medicine physician first reviews your medical history and talks with you about your symptoms. Your internal medicine provider may ask you detailed questions about the severity, duration, location, and intensity of your symptoms and discuss other medical conditions or previous accidents or injuries. 

Next, your provider conducts a comprehensive physical exam to look for signs of arthritis in the affected joints, including:

  • Redness or warmth
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Stiffness or pain
  • Problems with range of motion
  • Joint strength and flexibility
  • Difficulty with mobility

In addition, your internal medicine provider orders any diagnostic tests or imaging studies needed to rule out other conditions and make an accurate diagnosis. 

For example, blood tests can look for the presence of certain antibodies that may indicate rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, while a joint fluid analysis can check for infection or gout.

The ways internal medicine can help manage arthritis

Arthritis is a degenerative condition, which means that without effective management, the symptoms and side effects of the condition worsen over time. The good news is that at Prima Medicine, our internal medicine team specializes in comprehensive care for the long-term management of arthritis.

Since every patient has different needs, our internists create a personalized arthritis treatment plan based on your diagnosis and symptoms. Arthritis treatment may include different therapies and treatments, including one or more of the following:

  • Lifestyle modifications, such as losing weight
  • Physical therapy
  • Over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications
  • Pain medications
  • Corticosteroid injections

Your internal medicine provider closely monitors your condition and how you respond to different treatment approaches, making adjustments as needed to best fit your needs. If your arthritis becomes severe, your team member may recommend one or more specialists to help manage your condition. 

If you have arthritis and want treatment, or if you want to see if you have arthritis, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today.

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