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Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects that your joint symptoms are related to a bacterial infection, he or she probably will remove fluid from the affected joint with a needle and will have it analyzed in a lab. You may have blood and urine tests. If your doctor thinks a sexually transmitted disease may be causing the problem, he or she will do a pelvic examination if you are a woman and a swab of the penis and a urine test if you are a man. The urine and swabbed material are sent to be tested in a laboratory. Tests are not available to diagnose most viral diseases. However, some of the more common viral causes of arthritis, such as parvovirus, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, can usually be diagnosed with blood tests.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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