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Joint swelling Assessment Questionnaire

Questions Your Doctor May Ask - and Why!

During a consultation, your doctor will use various techniques to assess the symptom: Joint swelling. These will include a physical examination and possibly diagnostic tests. (Note: A physical exam is always done, diagnostic tests may or may not be performed depending on the suspected condition) Your doctor will ask several questions when assessing your condition. It is important to openly share any pertinent information to help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

It is also very important to bring an up-to-date list of all of your all medical conditions, medications including dosages, and names of numbers of any specialist you see.

Create your printable checklist by answering questions that your doctor may ask below:

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  1. How long have you had joint swelling?

    Why: to determine if acute or chronic.

  2. Is the joint swelling located to one joint?

    Why: would suggest septic arthritis, gout, tuberculosis, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, trauma and pseudogout.

  3. If more than one joint is affected, which joints are involved?
  4. Is it symmetrical or asymmetrical joint swelling?

    Why: asymmetrical involvement is more typical of gout, rheumatic fever, hemophilia, bone cancer, septic arthritis and trauma. Symmetrical involvement is more characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

  5. Is the involvement primarily in small or large joints?

    Why: Involvement of the small joints is characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis, gonococcal arthritis and Reiter's syndrome. Involvement of the larger joints is more characteristic of gout and osteoarthritis. However osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may involve both.

  6. Is the joint swelling migratory?

    Why: i.e. joint pain and swelling moves from joint to joint? - may suggest rheumatic fever.

  7. What is the age of the person with the joint swelling?

    Why: Younger people are most likely to have systemic lupus erythematosus, hemophilia, trauma, rheumatoid arthritis and gonococcal arthritis. Older people are more likely to have osteoarthritis, gout or bone tumor. There is however a significant overlap.

  8. How would you explain the joint swelling?

    Why: e.g. acute joint swelling (1-4 hours) with intense pain would suggest blood, infection or gout; subacute (1-2 days) soft joint swelling would suggest synovial effusion (fluid); chronic and bony joint swelling would suggest osteoarthritis; chronic and soft/boggy joint swelling would suggest synovial proliferation such as rheumatoid arthritis.

  9. Does the joint swelling come or go or is it constant?
  10. Have you had a recent viral -type infection?

    Why: may suggest viral arthritis including influenza, mumps, rubella, varicella, hepatitis A and B, infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus, parvovirus, Ross river virus.

  11. History of trauma to involved joint?

    Why: may indicate joint strain, joint sprain, tendonitis or bursitis of the joint or secondary osteoarthritis ( osteoarthritis that follows injury and wear and tear).

  12. Have you had recent mosquito bites?

    Why: may suggest Ross river fever or dengue fever.

  13. Past medical history?

    Why: systemic diseases that may predispose to or present with joint swelling include systemic lupus erythematosus, bleeding disorders, rheumatic fever, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, diabetes mellitus, Wegener's granulomatosis, HIV infection, hemochromatosis, Paget's disease.

  14. Medications?

    Why: e.g. certain medications may precipitate gout including frusemide and thiazide diuretics; some medications may induce a Lupus syndrome including hydralazine, procainamide, phenytoin, chlorpromazine, isoniazid and methyldopa.

  15. History of intravenous drug abuse?

    Why: may suggest septic arthritis, hepatitis B or C, HIV-associated joint disease, subacute bacterial endocarditis and serum sickness reactions.

  16. Sexual history?

    Why: can determine risk of Reiter's syndrome, gonococcal arthritis, Hepatitis B or HIV viral arthritis.

  17. Family history?

    Why: e.g. osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, pseudogout, hemophilia.

  18. Travel history?

    Why: can provide information about the risk of dengue fever.

  19. Joint pain?

    Why: If have joint swelling without pain, especially on motion, would suggest Charcot's disease (degenerative joint disease due to lack of protective pain sensation. May be associated with neurosyphilis, cauda equina lesion, diabetic neuropathy or syringomyelia).

  20. Fever?

    Why: may suggest septic arthritis, rheumatic fever, gonococcal arthritis, Reiter's syndrome, lupus erythematosus, Lyme arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, Still's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

  21. Urethral discharge?

    Why: would suggest Reiter's syndrome or gonococcal arthritis.

  22. Low back pain?

    Why: would suggest rheumatoid spondylitis, ochronosis or gout.

  23. Recent diarrhea?

    Why: may suggest enteropathic arthritis (such as due to Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease) or Reiter's syndrome.

  24. Skin rash?

    Why: may suggest psoriatic arthritis, gonococcal arthritis or HIV infection.

  25. Eye pain?

    Why: may suggest Ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter's disease.

  26. Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

    Why: e.g. usually symmetrical and can affect many joints. Pain is worse at the end of the day and aggravated by use and cold weather, relieved by rest. Usually associated with pronounced stiffness, especially after activity.

  27. Symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis?

    Why: e.g. usually starts with the gradual onset of pain and stiffness of the small joints of the hands and feet. Joint pain is worse on waking, nocturnal pain with disturbed sleep, pain is relieved with activity. Morning and rest stiffness can last for hours. May be associated with weakness, weight loss, malaise and fatigue.

  28. Symptoms of gout?

    Why: e.g. often excruciating pain in the great toe starting in the early hours of the morning, skin over the joint may be red, shiny, swollen and hot, joint is very tender to touch. Pain may be precipitated by alcohol excess, surgical operation, starvation and certain medications.

  29. Symptoms of Viral arthritis?

    Why: e.g. symmetrical involvement of many joints, mainly of the hands and feet and is usually mild pain. It is caused by many viruses, including those causing influenza, mumps, rubella, varicella, hepatitis A and B, infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus, parvovirus, Ross river virus.

  30. Symptoms of Rheumatic fever?

    Why: e.g. typically occurs in children and young adults, migratory polyarthritis (many joints are involved, joints affected alter with time), involves large joints sequentially, one becoming hot, red, swollen and very painful as the other subsides. It rarely lasts more than five days in any one joint. Associated with acute fever.

  31. Symptoms of hemochromatosis?

    Why: e.g. fatigue, painful joints, impotence, bronze discoloration of skin. Joints involved are characteristically the second or third metacarpophalangeal joints (knuckles of the hand).

  32. Symptoms of Polymyalgia Rheumatica?

    Why: e.g. typically occurs in ages 60-70 presenting with pain and stiffness in shoulder, hip and cervical spine; symmetrical distribution; early morning stiffness. May be systemic signs such as weight loss, loss of appetite and fatigue. Painful restriction of movement of shoulders and hips.

  33. Symptoms of Reiter's syndrome?

    Why: e.g. conjunctivitis, urethritis (painful urination, penile discharge, vaginal discharge).

  34. Symptoms of Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis or gastroenteritis?
  35. Symptoms of Lyme disease?

    Why: e.g. months or years after a tick bite develop joint pain, usually of the large joints such as knee; typical rash (a dough-nut shaped red rash about 6cm in diameter) at the bite site; heart disorders (especially abnormal rhythms of the heart) or disease of the central nervous system (including weakness of the muscles in the limbs, muscular pain or evidence of meningitis).

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Joint swelling:

The following list of conditions have 'Joint swelling' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Joint swelling or choose View All.

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