Your joints feel stiff, sore and swollen. But is it arthritis? And if it is, what kind is it and what can be done about it? It all depends on the diagnosis.

Don’t assume it’s arthritis. It could be a joint infection or other problem. Even if it is arthritis, it’s worthwhile getting a diagnosis because the treatment for many types of arthritis are very different. Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, is handled very differently from osteoarthritis. So it is well worth seeing your doctor if you develop joint pain.

Early detection and treatment of arthritis is important to prevent disability and deformity. Many people self diagnose their arthritis and don’t get the appropriate therapy. Some people think ‘Oh well, I hurt a bit, so I’ll decrease my daily activities.’ And that’s how their quality life beings to deteriorate. So by the time they do come in to see a doctor, it’s kind of late in the ball game.

If you have pain, swelling, or stiffness in or around your joints for more than a few days, it’s time to see your doctor. Keep in mind that these symptoms can develop suddenly or over time. But only your doctor can tell if it is arthritis or other related problems.

When you see your doctor, be prepared to tell him:

  • Where it hurts
  • When it hurts
  • When it first began to hurt
  • How long it has hurt
  • If you have noticed any swelling
  • What daily tasks are difficult to do now
  • If you have ever hurt the joint in an accident or overused it on the job or in a hobby
  • If anyone in your family has had similar problems
  • All of this information will help your doctor make the proper diagnosis and plan the appropriate treatments.