Should X rays of affected joints with polyarticular arthritis always be obtained?
Not always. As a general rule, patients with acute polyarticular arthritis will not benefit from joint radiographs. Radiographs are most valuable in evaluating chronic arthritis that has been relatively long-standing and that has resulted in characteristic changes in joints. OA, chronic RA, psoriatic arthritis, gout, CPPD disease, systemic sclerosis, and sarcoidosis all have specific appearances on radiographs that are very useful in diagnosis. However, it should be remembered that OA is so common it may coexist with other arthritis syndromes, and radiographic changes may be a mixture of both types of arthritis in a given patient.