How to Diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis can be a little tricky as the early symptoms and signs mimic a lot of other diseases. In this autoimmune disease, the immune system of a person starts attacking itself which leads to joint inflammation. Some of the early symptoms of this type of arthritis are pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, and tenderness in joints, especially wrists, arms, foot, and ankles. A person might also have symptoms of inflammation in skin, lungs, nervous system, heart, and eyes.
If rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis and treatment is not done in time then it may lead to a restriction in movement and disability. This disease attacks the joints directly which in some cases causes irreversible damage to the affected joint so it becomes extremely important to diagnose the arthritis type on time and get proper treatment.
Here’s everything you need to know about rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis–
- First Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis: One of the safest way to get away unscathed from rheumatoid arthritis is to get treatment on the first sign of these symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, discomfort for at least 6 weeks, morning stiffness that lasts at least 30 minutes, and joint pain/swelling/stiffness, especially in small joints like your wrists, hands, or feet.
- Medical History: One of the important steps in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is the person and family medical history. One of the main causes of this type of arthritis is the genetic inheritance, as a person is more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis if someone from their family or relatives have the history of having the same disease.
- Blood Tests and Physical Exam: Blood tests like erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP), full blood count help in finding the inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Each joint of the body shall be examined, looking for tenderness, swelling, warmth and painful or limited movement.
- Rheumatoid Factor and Antibodies: One way to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis is by using the rheumatoid factor(RF). Once we know that a person has arthritis, then it becomes important to diagnose the correct arthritis type to provide accurate treatment to the patient. The type of rheumatoid arthritis is distinguished by the presence or absence of an autoantibody or protein produced by the body when it starts attacking the immune system.
Studies show that 80% of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis test positive for rheumatoid factor(RF). In seropositive rheumatoid arthritis, your body contains anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides(anti-CCPs), also known as anticitrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs). These antibodies are solely created in your body to harm itself and trigger joint inflammation. If a person is diagnosed with seropositive then they require more intense treatment than seronegative.
- Joint Imaging: Joint imaging includes a number of different scans which help in diagnosing arthritis so that a person can get correct arthritis cure. Some X-rays (where radiation is passed through your body to examine your bones and joints) and MRI scans (where strong magnetic fields and radio waves are used to produce detailed images of your joints) are performed which help in monitoring how your condition is progressing over time.
Getting correct and timely rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis is extremely important for a person to get proper treatment. If not given proper treatment, rheumatoid arthritis can cause irreversible damage to joints and organs.