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Diagnosis of arthritis

Our orthopedic specialists at Dignity Health may use a combination of these methods to diagnose arthritis:

  • Discussion of your medical history and the symptoms you’re experiencing
  • Physical exam of your joints, muscle strength, movements, joint mobility, and other areas of your body
  • X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography scans (CT), or ultrasound imaging to reveal the extent of any joint and bone damage
  • Blood tests to look for specific antibodies, anemia, and signs of inflammation
  • Samples of urine or joint fluid to check for antibodies and signs of infection


Treatment for arthritis aims to control pain and prevent further damage to your joints.

Typically, doctors will begin conservatively, recommending lifestyle changes and medication. If these approaches don’t relieve symptoms, your doctor may recommend more aggressive treatment such as surgery.

While joint damage cannot typically be reversed, it is often possible to manage the pain and other symptoms associated with arthritis.

The exact treatment plan will vary depending on your medical history and the type of arthritis you are experiencing. Common treatment approaches include:

  • Over-the-counter pain medications, including NSAIDs such as ibuprofen
  • Prescription pain medications
  • Pain-relieving creams containing menthol or capsaicin
  • Alternative pain relief therapies such as acupuncture and massage
  • Autoimmune disease medications such as DMARDs, a type of antirheumatic drug (specifically for rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Corticosteroids such as prednisone and cortisone, which reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system
  • Physical therapy to regain range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint
  • Occupational therapy to learn how to protect the joints during daily activities
  • Lifestyle changes such as eating an anti-inflammatory diet, losing weight, exercising regularly, and using assistive devices to support the joints while walking
  • Surgery to repair, replace, or fuse (connect together) your joints.


Most types of arthritis do not have a cure, but the effects can often be eased with medication and therapy.

Dignity Health orthopedic experts are well versed in many bone and joint health issues, including arthritis. We proudly serves patients with arthritis through our network of hospitals across the United States.

If you think you are experiencing arthritis symptoms, contact us as soon as possible, as early detection can be vital in reducing symptoms.

Use our Find a Doctor locator for more information about how we can serve you.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.