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The American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism have created a system for diagnosing
(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
, ultrasounds, or
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:
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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DynaMed Editorial Team. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
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National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
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Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology
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9/10/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
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Ann Rheum Dis.