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There are a variety of tests that your doctor can perform in order to confirm whether you have psoriatic arthritis or not

How is Psoriatic Arthritis diagnosed?

Psoriatic Arthritis sufferer

There isn’t a specific test to diagnose psoriatic arthritis, but your doctor will often perform a series of physical examinations in order to assess any presence of the disease. Your doctor will ask about your family history before completing a series of assessment techniques that can be grouped into three main categories:

  • Joint assessment
    Your doctor may assess the in your body for swelling and tenderness during a physical examination. Using only their hands the doctor will manipulate and feel each of your joints in order to test for the presence of swelling and locate any pain or discomfort.
  • Skin examination
    Psoriasis can present in a variety of ways and as a result less severe forms of the condition can often go unnoticed. As a result the doctor will often perform a skin examination even if no previous history of psoriasis has been recorded. During the examination they will look to access the spread/coverage on your body, in addition to the measuring the severity of each of the affected areas.
  • Nail examination
    Your doctor may check the appearance of your nails for any changes associated with psoriatic arthritis such as pitting or separation from the free-edge.

In addition to the above assessments your doctor could request further testing in order to form a more conclusive diagnosis. These maybe required to rule out the possibility of other diseases which can often have similar symptoms to psoriatic arthritis, these may include other conditions such as fibromyalgia and or wear and tear arthritis (osteoarthritis).

  • Imaging techniques
    An x-ray can help to identify any change in your joints that occur as a result of psoriatic arthritis. The changes associated with psoriatic arthritis are very characteristic and can be used to rule out the possibility of other joint complications.

    An ultrasound scan, sometimes called a sonogram, is a procedure that uses high frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the body, such as the joints of the hands and feet. Ultrasound scans usually take between 15-45 minutes to complete are frequently used to examine pregnant mothers and their unborn child.

    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can also be used to assess the status of hard and soft tissue in your body. Radio waves and a magnetic field are used to provide detailed images which can be interpreted to check the condition of tendons or ligaments in larger parts of the body such as your legs and back.
  • Laboratory tests
    In some cases your doctor will need to rule out the possibility of other diseases which can often present in the same way to psoriatic arthritis. Your doctor can request a blood test to check for a marker known as ‘rheumatoid factor’ which can help rule out the possibility of rheumatoid arthritis if present.

    Laboratory tests can also be used to check for the presence of gout which is similarly characterised by pain and swelling of the joints. Your doctor can remove some of the fluid around your swollen joint using a needle, and can check for the presence of uric acid crystals which can indicate the presence of gout. This test, due to its more invasive measure, is less likely to be performed and will only be used to confirm a diagnosis if necessary.
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