How important is it to know the type of Arthritis I have?

Question

Is it normal that when you see a doctor for the 1st time to confirm you have arthritis and to check the status of the disease? Is it important to determine what type of arthritis because they can have similar symptoms?

Answer

The word ‘arthritis’ simply means ‘joint derangement’. This specifies that the problem is in the joint itself – as opposed to the surrounding structures, such as the muscles or tendons. However, the word ‘arthritis’ does not determine the cause of the joint troubles nor the plan for treatment. The first step in evaluating an individual with arthritis is to determine if it is an inflammatory autoimmune cause of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, etc) or osteoarthritis. This can be established through history, examination, xrays, and laboratory testing.

Rebecca Manno, MD, MHS

About Rebecca Manno, MD, MHS

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Johns Hopkins University