Inflammatory arthritis specialist Perth

Inflammatory arthritis

On this page, we discuss the basics of inflammatory arthritis or inflammation of your joints. We provide an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment and the reasons to choose Murdoch Rheumatology as your specialist clinic.

Inflammatory arthritis definition

What is Inflammatory Arthritis?

Inflammatory arthritis (IA) is a group of conditions in which an overactive immune system results in inflammation of joints.

IA differs from osteoarthritis (OA) which is much more common and occurs in older people.

The most common types of IA are:

inflammatory arthritis specialist Perth Dr Andrew Taylor

Inflammatory arthritis symptoms

What are common symptoms?

IA is more likely to affect younger people. The common symptoms of IA are:
  • Joint pain and stiffness. These symptoms increase with rest and are worse in the morning. Often exercise or just keeping moving improves the pain and stiffness of IA.
  • Joint Swelling. Joints are often swollen with IA and the inflammation may be seen as redness and the joints may feel warm or even hot to touch. Just as for pain and stiffness, the swelling is usually worse in the morning.
  • Fatigue and lethargy. The inflammation caused by the overactive immune system can affect the whole body. Some patients may have reduced appetite, weight loss and even a fever.
In some types of IA other organs may be affected by inflammation, causing symptoms such as:
  • Skin rash
  • Breathlessness and cough
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain and upset
  • Muscle weakness

Inflammatory arthritis diagnosis

How is it diagnosed?

The steps in diagnosing Inflammatory Arthritis involve the following:

  • Clinical assessment. This is the most important stage of the diagnosis and involves a thorough history of the symptoms and how the patient is affected as well as an examination of the joints and other body systems. A rheumatologist is specifically trained to carry this out.
  • Imaging of the joints. This can include plain X-rays as well as more detailed scans of the joints and other regions of the body such as by ultrasound, nuclear Bone Scan, CT scan, MRI scan etc.
  • Ultrasound is a very helpful tool in diagnosing IA. It can be undertaken within a consultation and demonstrate swelling and inflammation within joints and tendons as well as any damage caused by IA. Crystals from uric acid or calcium pyrophosphate may be the cause of IA and can be seen within the joints on ultrasound.
  • Blood tests. In IA, there may also be inflammation from the overactive immune system that can be detected in blood tests that cause abnormalities such as;
    • Anaemia (low blood count)
    • White blood cell changes
    • Rise in ESR and/or C-reactive Protein (CRP)
  • Immune system abnormalities. These can include various antibodies such as Rheumatoid Factor (RF) and antinuclear factor (ANA). Most of these are not in themselves evidence of an inflammatory arthritis but provide important information if someone is diagnosed with IA.

Inflammatory arthritis treatment Perth

How is Inflammatory Arthritis treated?

Once an Inflammatory Arthritis is diagnosed every effort is made to try to identify what type of IA the patient may have. This is important as each type of these conditions can affect different parts of the body and require different treatment and medications.

Types of treatment include:

  • Exercise and physical therapy eg physiotherapy
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
  • Glucocorticoids (steroids, cortisone). These can be given in tablet form or injected into a joint.
  • Disease modifying medications (DMARDs)
  • Immunosuppressant medications

Inflammatory arthritis doctor Perth

Why Murdoch Rheumatology for Inflammatory Arthritis?

Making an accurate diagnosis and selecting the right treatment is not always easy. At Murdoch Rheumatology you will receive a highly experienced assessment. Treatment will be selected that is the best for you and your condition based on the most current knowledge. 

At Murdoch Rheumatology an ultrasound examination within your consultation may be undertaken to help in the diagnosis and response to treatment in IA.

murdoch rheumatology dr andrew taylor