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 (such as 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:
Your doctor will also rule out other conditions that have similar symptoms to RA. Examples of these other conditions include:
Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org
Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2000.
Conn’s Current Therapy. 54th ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2002.
DynaMed Editorial Team. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 3, 2010. Accessed September 10, 2010.
Firestein ED et al. Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2008.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov.
9/10/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Aletaha D, Neogi T, 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.
4/24/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Wise JN, Weissman BN, et al. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria for chronic foot pain. Available at: http://www.acr.org/~/media/ACR/Documents/AppCriteria/Diagnostic/ChronicFootPain.pdf. Updated 2013. Accessed April 24, 2014.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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