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Arthritis Foundation



National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

877.22.NIAMS (226.4267)


Arthritis refers to over 100 disorders that affect the joints or areas around the joints. It is a common chronic health problem and occurs in people of all ethnic groups. In the U.S., arthritis is the most common cause of disability.

The risk for arthritis increases with aging. More than 1 in 5 adults has arthritis, but 300,000 children have some form of it, too. Arthritis is more common in women than men.

Types Arthritis

How It Is Diagnosed


Medical Care

To diagnose arthritis, your doctor or health care provider does these things:

•  Asks you to describe your symptoms and does a physical exam.

•  Asks if you have had any physical stresses or injuries.

•  Examines joints and areas around them.

The tests below may also be needed.

•  Blood and urine tests.

•  X-rays and MRIs.

•  Taking a fluid sample from a joint. The fluid is examined.

Tests also help diagnose or rule out other arthritis-related problems. Examples are:

•  Lyme disease. This is an infection from a deer tick bite.

•  Other auto-immune diseases, such as fibromyalgia and lupus (the systemic kind).

Image of two doctors looking at an x-ray.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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