Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Rheumatoid Arthritis DiagnosisRheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful chronic diseases. This can affect both men and women, and usually occurs when one starts aging. Pain in the joints is usually the first of the  symptoms, but since this alone is not conclusive, you need to seek the proper rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis from an expert.


According to Up To Date, there is no single test used to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. Instead, the diagnosis is based upon many factors, including the characteristic signs and symptoms, the results of laboratory tests, and the results of x-rays. (See “Diagnosis and differential diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis”.)


A person with well-established rheumatoid arthritis typically has or has had at least several of the following:


  • Morning stiffness that lasts at least one hour and that has been present for at least six weeks
  • Swelling of three or more joints for at least six weeks
  • Swelling of the wrist, hand, or finger joints for at least six weeks
  • Swelling of the same joints on both sides of the body
  • Changes in hand x-rays that are characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rheumatoid nodules of the skin
  • Blood test positive for rheumatoid factor and/or anti-citrullinated peptide/protein antibodies


Not all of these features are present in people with early RA, and these problems may be present in some people with other rheumatic conditions.


In some cases, it may be necessary to monitor the condition over time before a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can be made with certainty.


Laboratory tests — Laboratory tests help to confirm the presence of rheumatoid arthritis, to differentiate it from other conditions, and to predict the likely course of the condition and its response to treatment.


Rheumatoid factor (RF) — An antibody called rheumatoid factor is present in the blood of 70 to 80 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis. However, rheumatoid factor is also found in people with other types of rheumatic disease and in a small number of healthy individuals.


Anti-citrullinated peptide/protein antibody test — Blood tests for antibodies to citrullinated peptides/proteins (ACPA) are more specific than rheumatoid factor for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis. Anti-ACPA antibody tests may be positive very early in the course of disease. The test is positive in most patients with rheumatoid arthritis.


Source: Up to Date


The tests mentioned above can help you with the right rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. In fact, the moment that you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is highly recommended that you seek the help of a doctor.


According to an article in WebMD, when rheumatoid arthritis flares up, it makes joints feel stiff and achy. That discomfort may go away at times, but there may still be permanent damage. Eventually rheumatoid arthritis can harm joints so they don’t work as well even when the disease itself is not active. How does joint damage occur, and how can it be prevented?


Periods of active inflammation are called high disease activity. When joints are inflamed, white blood cells enter the joint space.


Inside the joint, these white blood cells produce chemicals that they usually use to kill invading microorganisms — only no microorganisms are there. Instead, the chemicals damage the healthy joint tissue. During high levels of disease activity, you experience a flare — joints become swollen, stiff, and painful. You can also have low levels of disease activity that come and go and have mild symptoms.


There are two main ways this process can cause joint damage:


  • The infection-fighting chemicals cause cartilage, the cushion between bones in the joint, to slowly degrade and thin.
  • The inflammation inside the joint stimulates the joint lining (synovium) to grow and spread where it doesn’t belong. If it continues long enough, it can harm healthy cartilage or bone.


The simple rule of thumb is, the “longer” and “stronger” the disease activity, the more joint damage is probably occurring.


A person with joint swelling and stiffness every day is more likely to have joint damage than a person with these symptoms less often. (Longer disease activity)

Someone with a lot of joint swelling or lots of swollen joints is more likely to have damage than a person with just a little bit. (Stronger disease activity)


If you are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor will do a complete joint exam and get X-rays and blood tests. At later visits, you will be checked for any changes to your tests, and your doctor will address possible joint damage with you


Source: WebMD


Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is very important in order for you to be able to afford yourself of the right treatment. Don’t wait until it worsens, get some diagnosis now.

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