Diagnosing Inflammatory Arthritis

GP Appointment

Inflammatory arthritis is a group of conditions characterised by inflammation of the joints and often other tissues. These conditions include axial spondyloarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

It is advisable to seek medical advice if you experience persistent pain, swelling or stiffness in your joints.

Depending on the particular form of inflammatory arthritis, a diagnosis will most likely be based upon your symptoms, a physical examination and the results of x-rays, scans and blood tests.

Seeing your GP

Your GP will ask you about your symptoms as well as carrying out a physical examination, checking your joints for signs of swelling, and to assess how easily they move. If your GP thinks you have a form of inflammatory arthritis, they’ll refer you to a specialist (rheumatologist).

Imaging tests

Different scans may be completed to check for joint inflammation and damage. These scans can help tell the difference between the different types of inflammatory arthritis and can be used to check how your condition is progressing over time.

These may include:

  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Ultrasound scans

Blood tests

Blood tests may be used to find changes in your blood that are caused by inflammation. However, no blood test can prove or rule out a diagnosis of a type of inflammatory arthritis.

Blood tests are used to help diagnose and monitor inflammatory arthritis and include:

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Full blood count

Genetic testing

A genetic blood test may be carried out to help diagnose axial spondyloarthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, to see if you carry the HLA-B27 gene. However, this test can only contribute towards a diagnosis of axial spondyloarthritis or ankylosing spondylitis - it’s not entirely reliable as not everyone with axial spondyloarthritis or ankylosing spondylitis has the HLA-B27 gene.

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Non-biologic Treatments for Inflammatory Arthritis

Non-biologic Treatments for Inflammatory Arthritis

Painkillers, steroids and other treatments

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Biologic Treatments for Inflammatory Arthritis

Biologic treatments are a type of treatment for some long-term medical conditions

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