Diagnosing Arthritis

There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Symptoms and treatment will vary depending on which type you have. So, it is very important to make sure you get the right diagnosis. Your general practitioner (GP) will be able to help.

How is arthritis diagnosed?

It is important to see your doctor as soon as possible if you have symptoms of arthritis. It may take several visits before your doctor can tell what type of arthritis you have. This is because some types of arthritis can be hard to diagnose and may need further testing or examination. 

Firstly, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and family history. They may examine the affected joints and send you for some tests or x-rays. Your doctor may also send you to a rheumatologist (a doctor who specialises in arthritis) for more tests.

Preparing to see your doctor

Before you go to the doctor, it can be helpful to write down your symptoms and any patterns that you have noticed.

These questions can help you prepare to see your doctor:

  • What does your pain feel like? – is it sharp or dull? Aching or stabbing? Do you get pins and needles? Does the pain wake you up?
  • When does your pain increase?  - does it get worse after you have been active, for example, cleaning the house, or doing the gardening? Does it get worse if you have been sitting or lying still for a while, for example, sitting at the computer or reading a book?
  • Have you noticed anything that helps to make the pain better? - for example, taking a warm shower, catching up with friends or doing activities you enjoy?
  • Does your joint stiffness change throughout the day? - is it worse in the morning, or does it stay the same throughout the day?

Keeping a ‘pain diary’ can be a really helpful way tosee any patterns in your symptoms so you can better inform your doctor. In a pain diary, you record things that might impact on your level of pain. You rate your pain on a scale of 0 – 10, and then rate your sleep, mood and level of physical activity as well. It is ideal to do this a few times a day, so you can really get a sense of any patterns.

Learn more about how Arthritis is managed >>

Information and Support for Arthritis

Learn more about the types of arthritis and the ways it can be managed with our Info Sheets and Booklets

Call our free infoline on 1800 011 041 to speak with a member of our health team. 

Register for our online exercise program, Arthritis Moves!

Sign up to our e-news to receive regular information about arthritis and the ways we can manage it. 



You can make a difference by supporting the work of Arthritis Queensland. Arthritis Queensland is 95% community funded. We rely on our generous donors and volunteers to ensure that we can continue to provide solutions and support to adults and children living with the pain of arthritis.