Glossary On Diagnosis

The history given by the patients is usually sufficient to arrive to a probable diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. However, certain tests may be required to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Complete blood count: This usually reveals mild anemia along with increased white blood cell count sometimes.
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR): This is usually elevated in most cases of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid Factor: This test is positive in almost 70 to 90% of patients with RA symptoms but may not be necessarily present in all cases. The titer of Rheumatoid factor is important to judge the clinical course of the disease. Patients with a high titer usually exhibit more severe joint disease and greater functional disability. Those with a low titer have a mild course of the disease. There may also be cases in which the Rheumatoid factor is positive but the patient may have no signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis at all.
  • Serum albumin: This may be lower than normal.
  • Anti-nuclear Antibody: This test is also frequently positive in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • C-reactive protein test: This can be used to monitor the response to therapy in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
  • X-rays of joints: In early stages, there may be only soft tissue swelling seen on the X-rays. In the later stages, loss of joint spaces may be seen. Advanced stages of rheumatoid arthritis are marked by erosions of the bones and deformities.
Rheumatoid Arthritis