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Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism have created a system for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One of the main criteria is that you have to have at least one swollen or tender joint or a history of a swollen joint. The areas affected may be small joints (eg, located in the hands or feet) or a large joint, like the ones found in the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, or ankles. Which joints are affected, how many joints are affected, and for how long they have been affected all help with the diagnosis.
The following blood tests are also done to help with the diagnosis:
  • Rheumatoid factor (RF)
  • Anti-citrullinated protein antibody
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
In addition, imaging tests, like x-rays , ultrasounds, or MRI scans may be ordered to get more information about your joints.
Your doctor will also rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms to RA. Examples of these other conditions include:

References

Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/ .

DynaMed Editorial Team. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated September 3, 2010. Accessed September 10, 2010.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/ .

Cecil Textbook of Medicine . 21st ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2000.

Conn’s Current Therapy . 54th ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2002.

Firestein ED et al. Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology . 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2008.

9/10/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Aletaha D, Neogi T, Silman AJ, Funovits J, et al. 2010 rheumatoid arthritis classification criteria: an American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism collaborative initiative. Ann Rheum Dis. 2010;69(9):1580-1588.

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