Do I Have Arthritis?
So you want to know if you have arthritis? If you are having joint symptoms, it’s a good question, and we’re glad you asked.
The Arthritis Foundation is great place to come for information and guidance from advice from experts you can trust, but in the end the question – “Do I have arthritis?” – can only be answered your doctor. Still, we can help. Read on.
Why It’s a Good Question
Lot of people think they might have arthritis, but for some reason they never discuss it with their doctors. Many older people accept joint pain as a part of aging that can’t be avoided. They don’t talk to their doctor because they assume nothing can be done about it. Myths, like those, can pass from generation to generation, even though they aren’t true. And younger people with joint pain, swelling or stiffness might not even consider arthritis. They would be surprised to learn that people of any age can get arthritis, even children.
Why It's Important to Preserve Your Joints
Lifelong joint health is an important part of everyone’s wellness, productivity, quality of life and independence. If you have arthritis, you want to find out early so you can take steps to protect your joints from ongoing pain and permanent damage of uncontrolled inflammation. Early diagnosis and treatment can save more than joints. Some types of arthritis can cause internal damage to the heart and other organs from the start. Prompt treatment can protect your overall health.
Why Arthritis is a “Tricky” Diagnosis
Arthritis might seem simple, but it’s really not. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. Arthritis can start in many ways, and can be difficult to recognize. It can come on slowly and be mild, or it can start suddenly and cause intense pain that surges within a few hours. The signs and symptoms can come and go over time. It might cause the classic issues of joint pain, swelling and stiffness, or it may first cause health problems that seem unrelated, like fatigue or a rash. Early signs of arthritis might be mistaken for an injury or the result of “too much” activity.
Of course, not every joint ache or pain needs medical treatment, but there are certain signs and symptoms that could signal something more serious than expected.
Which Arthritis Signs and Symptoms Mean You Should See a Doctor?
If you are having joint symptoms and are asking, “Do I Have Arthritis?,” you owe it to your joints and your overall health to find out. An experienced, well-trained doctor is the place to start. Because there are so many types of arthritis and conditions that affect the joints, diagnosis can be tricky. Most people start with their primary care physician, but then are referred to medical specialists called rheumatologists, experts in arthritis and related diseases.