Symptom diagnosis rheumatoid arthritis
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints.
The diagnosis is based mostly on the clinical presentation. Rheumatoid arthritis generally occurs in a symmetrical pattern, meaning that if one knee or hand is involved, the other one also is. The disease often affects the wrist joints and the finger joints closest to the hand. It can also affect other parts of the body besides the joints. In addition, people with rheumatoid arthritis may have fatigue, prolonged morning stiffness lasting for hours, occasional fevers, and a general sense of not feeling well.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects people differently. For some people, it lasts only a few months or a year or two and goes away without causing any noticeable damage. Other people have mild or moderate forms of the disease, with periods of worsening symptoms, called flares, and periods in which they feel better, called remissions. Still others have a severe form of the disease that is active most of the time, lasts for many years or a lifetime, and leads to serious joint damage and disability.
Features of Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Tender, warm, swollen joints
• Symmetrical pattern of affected joints
• Joint inflammation often affecting the wrist and finger joints closest to the hand
• Joint inflammation sometimes affecting other joints, including the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, and feet
• Fatigue, occasional fevers, a general sense of not feeling well
• Pain and stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes in the morning or after a long rest
• Symptoms that last for many years
• Variability of symptoms among people with the disease
Severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis) that can cause significant internal organ damage.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease that can damage the eyes, nervous system, bone marrow, and lungs.
Laboratory testing including rheumatoid factor, anti-CCP, ESR, and CRP may be useful.
The use of magnetic resonance imaging and diagnostic ultrasound also can help confirm the presence of joint inflammation.
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