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Joint Pains? Is it Arthritis? Few Tips and Tests to help ease Arthritis Pain

Do you experience pain and stiffness of joints every afternoon or at night before going to bed? Are you finding it hard to move your fingers, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees or ankles? Are you 40 years old or above?

If your answer is Yes, to all these questions, you may be suffering from Arthritis. Arthritis is a disease of the joint where an individual with this condition usually suffers discomfort, pain, and soreness of body joints. There are many risk factors on why arthritis occurs, some are modifiable while others are not.

What are the causes of Arthritis?

Arthritis is a common disease in older individuals. As the individual gets older, the body joints like any other organs of the body go through the process of aging. Your body has several joints like the knee joints, shoulder joints, hip joints, and elbow joint and so on. Cartilage is one of the protective parts of the joint where it prevents the friction of the bones.

Arthritis DiagnosisOver time, due to regular wear and tear the cartilage that supports two joining bones is slowly depleted. When this happens, the person will experience pain particularly if the two bones rub each other because of lesser cartilage. There are also many nerve endings surrounding areas of the joint that could cause pain when there is abnormality in the structure and forms of the cartilage.

The persons at risk for developing arthritis are:

What Laboratory Tests help diagnose Arthritis?

Early detection of Arthritis helps lessen the pain that you can suffer. There are a number of laboratory tests that can be requested to determine your risk of Arthritis. A doctor can request these tests to detect the presence of Inflammation or to rule out a disease entity.

Tests to detect Inflammation

Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate

The Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate is a relatively cheaper and faster laboratory test but is non-specific for detecting inflammation. Non-specific means that it is also increased when you have other co-morbid conditions such as

  • Aging
  • Pregnancy
  • Infection
  • Anemia
  • Neoplasm

Doctors may request this test to determine, if you have other co-existing conditions. It is also used to monitor a connective tissue disease that you are undergoing medication.

C-Reactive Protein or CRP

Among the available laboratory tests, C-Reactive protein can most precisely detect inflammation. This protein is released by the liver in response to the activation of cytokines because of the inflammatory process that is going on in the body.

Synovial Fluid

The synovial fluid is a yellow or amber colored fluid. It is predominantly composed of mononuclear cells. To be considered as normal the cell count should not be more than 2000. If the polymorphonuclear cells or PMNs exceeds 2000, it means that there is an inflammatory process going on.

Tests to diagnose Arthritis-Related Conditions

Apart from inflammation, Arthritis can be a manifestation of an underlying disease such as:

The below tests are requested to rule out the possibility of having another disease entity.

Lyme Serology

This test may be requested, if your doctor suspects an infectious etiology for the signs and symptoms of Arthritis. Lyme serology detects your body’s immune response against an infectious agent called Borrelia burgdorferi which is transmitted via tick bite. One of the symptoms of Lyme disease is Arthralgia.

Uric Acid

If the doctor suspects Gout, uric acid test is requested to measure the uric acid levels in the blood. It determines whether there is an excess uric acid that crystallizes and may form deposits in the joint as well as in the other tissues. It may cause severe pain and inflammation.

Skin Biopsy

Your doctor may request a skin biopsy to determine other forms of Arthritis that involves the skin such as:

  • Lupus
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Vasculitis or inflammation of the blood vessels

In skin biopsy doctors or medical personnel’s may take small sample of your skin and examine it under the microscope.

Antinuclear Antibody or ANA

ANA is commonly found among patient suffering from Lupus. Having an abnormal ANA may also indicate other disease conditions such as:

ANA is an abnormal antibody which is directed against the nuclei of the cells. This antibody test is used to diagnose a particular disease or to confirm rheumatoid arthritis.

How is Arthritis managed?

Unfortunately there is no treatment for Arthritis, you can only take medications or undergo therapy to relieve the pain. So early detection is the key to effectively manage Arthritis, as suggested above there are many affordable lab tests that you can order online to help detect and monitor the condition. If you are at high risk of developing arthritis, don’t wait for the condition to worsen, get a test done early so you can feel lesser pain and prevent the onset of other co-morbid conditions.