The first step in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is a meeting between the doctor and the patient.
How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed?
The first step in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is a meeting between the doctor and patient. A doctor with special training in arthritis and related diseases is called a rheumatologist. The doctor reviews the history of symptoms, examines the joints for inflammation and deformity, the skin for rheumatoid nodules, and other parts of the body for inflammation. Certain blood and X-ray tests are often obtained. The diagnosis will be based on the pattern of symptoms, the distribution of the inflamed joints, and the blood and X-ray findings. Several visits may be necessary before the doctor can be certain of the diagnosis. The distribution of joint inflammation is important to the doctor in making a diagnosis. In rheumatoid arthritis, the small joints of the hands, wrists, feet, and knees are typically inflamed in a symmetrical distribution (affecting both sides of the body). When only one or two joints are inflamed, the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis becomes more difficult. The doctor may then perform other tests which ‘are described on the next slides.