How do doctors test for arthritis?
The doctors perform the various tests while diagnosing the arthritis patient to confirm the presence of this disease and the causes of the arthritis. First of all, the doctor confirms the medical history of the patient and then thorough physical examination is done. X-rays, laboratory tests and other tests are helpful in diagnosing the general arthritis.
Laboratory tests — These tests are done by the doctor in case the medical history and physical examination did not show any symptom or sign of the disease and these tests include:-
- Standard Laboratory tests — These tests include CBC test, kidney function test, urine test and liver function tests.
- Specialized Laboratory tests — These tests include erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein levels which are used for differentiating between the inflammatory and noninflammatory causes of arthritis.
- Antinuclear antibody — This test checks blood levels of antibodies which are present in mostly people having autoimmune disorders such as lupus and connective tissue diseases.
- Complete blood count (CBC test) — This test counts the presence of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a blood. Low white blood count and low platelet count are treated with drugs; low red blood count indicates that the person is anemic. The patient’s blood is periodically tested by CBC test.
- Urinalysis test — In this test, a urine sample is taken to test the red blood cells, white blood cells, protein and casts. This test also indicates the kidney disease which can be the cause of arthritis.
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate — This test detects inflammation in the body. The higher rates of this test indicate the presence of inflammation which can cause the general arthritis.
- White blood count (WBC test) — This test counts the number of white blood cells present in the blood. If the number of these cells becomes low then the person’s risk of infections is increased.
- Arthrocentesis — This test determines the presence of bacteria, viruses or crystals in the joint. This test is done to obtain a sample of synovial fluid. This is injected into the joint with a thin and hollow needle.
X-rays and other imaging tests — These X-rays provide the detailed information of the bones. Other tests are also performed such as:-
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computer aided tomography (CT)
These tests and X-rays can reveal the information about the bone loss, abnormal bone metabolism, fractures and changes in the normal shape of a joint.
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