What Are The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis affects everyone differently. In some people, joint symptoms develop over several years. In other people, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms progress rapidly. Many people have time with symptoms and then time with no symptoms .
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Pain, swelling, stiffness and tenderness in more than one joint.
- Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods.
- Pain and stiffness in the same joints on both sides of your body.
How Does A Normal Joint Work
A joint is where two bones meet. Most of our joints are designed to allow the bones to move in certain directions and within certain limits.
For example, the knee is the largest joint in the body and one of the most complicated. It must be strong enough to take our weight and must lock into position, so we can stand upright.
It also has to act as a hinge, so we can walk, and needs to twist and turn when we run or play sports.
The end of each bone is covered with cartilage that has a very smooth, slippery surface. The cartilage allows the ends of the bones to move against each other, almost without rubbing.
The joint is held in place by the synovium, which contains thick fluid to protect the bones and joint.
The synovium has a tough outer layer that holds the joint in place and stops the bones moving too far.
Strong cords called tendons anchor the muscles to the bones.
What Do Rheumatoid Factor Test Results Mean
Testing positive for rheumatoid does not necessarily mean the patient has rheumatoid arthritis. A positive for rheumatoid factor test results means that it can lead to or is the cause of inflammatory symptoms from an autoimmune disorder.
In certain cases, however, patients may test positive for rheumatoid factor, yet remain healthy and never experience any obvious symptoms.
Rheumatoid factor can be present in patients several months or even years before clinical rheumatoid arthritis symptoms develop. Depending on the level of symptoms a patient exhibits, the rheumatoid factor test results can assist doctors in reaching a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.
Positive rheumatoid factor results in someone who has been clinically diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis may also indicate the potential for a more aggressive disease course. This is possible in both children and adult patients.
Patients who test negative for rheumatoid factor but still exhibit symptoms and meet other diagnostic criteria may still be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
You May Like: What’s The Difference Between Gout And Arthritis
Who Should Take This Test
Anyone experiencing joint inflammation, joint pain/stiffness, loss of appetite or recurring bouts of fatigue should consider taking the imawareâ¢ rheumatoid arthritis test. Anyone that has a family of history of RA should also be screened. This test is designed to provide awareness of RA before symptoms appear, as the average onset age for rheumatoid arthritis is between 30 and 60 years old.
What Is The Definition Of Disability
There are several criteria used to determine whether someone is considered disabled enough to be eligible for benefits. The following criteria will be evaluated when you apply for Social Security disability benefits:
- If you are making at least $1,260 a month, you are mostly likely not eligible for disability benefits.
- You cannot do the basic tasks most jobs require. These include standing, walking, lifting, sitting, and memory tasks. In addition, you must not have been able to do these tasks for at least 12 months.
- You have a diagnosed disability. The Social Security Administration provides a list of conditions that are considered so disabling that they prevent working. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the conditions included under the category of inflammatory arthritis. You can still be eligible for benefits even if your specific condition isnt listed.
- You are unable to do the type of work you did previously.
- You must be unable to do any other form of sustainable work. Your diagnosis, age, medical history, and education will be examined, as well as any other work history or skills that might be applied to work.
Also Check: What Does Ra Feel Like
You May Like: What Medicine Helps Arthritis Pain
How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Treated
The goals of rheumatoid arthritis treatment are to:
- Control a patientâs signs and symptoms.
- Prevent joint damage.
- Maintain the patients quality of life and ability to function.
Joint damage generally occurs within the first two years of diagnosis, so it is important to diagnose and treat rheumatoid arthritis in the window of opportunity to prevent long-term consequences.
Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis include medications, rest, exercise, physical therapy/occupational therapy, and surgery to correct damage to the joint.
The type of treatment will depend on several factors, including the personâs age, overall health, medical history, and the severity of the arthritis.
You May Like: Mild Arthritic Changes
The Role Of Blood Tests
Blood tests dont provide a simple yes-or-no answer to whether you have RA. But they can help your doctor steer toward a diagnosis. Blood tests narrow down options and suggest how your disease might progress.
After you receive a diagnosis of RA, continued blood tests will monitor the side effects of drugs used in treatment. They can also help track the progression of the disorder.
Read Also: Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Bone Spurs
The C Reactive Protein
The CRP also measures the degree of inflammation in the joints. The CRP is a protein produced in the liver when there is inflammation anywhere in the body. Special techniques have to be used to measure the CRP. The more inflammation in the joints, the higher the CRP. The CRP is a more sensitive measure of inflammation than the ESR. This is because, in the normal situation, there is very little if any CRP in the blood.
Family & Personal Medical History
The patients medical history and family history are important factors in helping to reach a RA diagnosis. Studies have shown that the average risk of someone in the general population developing RA is about 1%. However, if there is a family history of the disease, the risk of another family member developing RA increases.
When diagnosing RA doctors ask about the following:
- Patients family members who have or had RA
- Patients existing or past autoimmune disorders
- Patients family members with other autoimmune disorders
- Other medical conditions, illnesses or complications
Depending on each patients unique set of answers, it can help doctors identify factors that lead to a RA diagnosis.
You May Like: How To Ease Arthritis Pain In Fingers
Reasons To Avoid Sugar If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis choose to limit or eliminate certain foods from their diets to reduce inflammation. One ingredient that your health care provider may recommend you avoid when living with inflammatory arthritis is sugar. From aggravating RA symptoms and inflammation to increasing your risk for other complications or health issues, too much sugar or sugar substitutes can make life with RA even more difficult.
Here are three reasons why you should consider limiting your sugar intake as part of your RA care plan. As always, ask your rheumatologist or a health care provider for medical advice before making dietary changes. They can advise you on the best way to do so or refer you to a specialist, such as a registered dietitian, for further guidance.
Doctors Dont Know What Triggers The Process But Believe Several Risk Factors Are Involved:
- Gender. Women are two to three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, leading researchers to believe that hormones may play a role in preventing or triggering the disease.
- Age. RA can occur at any age, but usually begins in middle age.
- Family history. An individual who has a family member with RA has an increased risk of developing the disease.
- Smoking. Smoking is also associated with increased severity of RA.
- Environment. Exposure to asbestos or silica carries increased risk.
Also Check: What Diet Is Good For Arthritis
What Is A Rheumatoid Factor Test
A rheumatoid factor test measures the amount of rheumatoid factor in your blood. Rheumatoid factors are proteins produced by the immune system. Normally, the immune system attacks disease-causing substances like viruses and bacteria. Rheumatoid factors attack healthy joints, glands, or other normal cells by mistake.
An RF test is most often used to help diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disorder that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints. Rheumatoid factors may also be a sign of other autoimmune disorders, such as juvenile arthritis, certain infections, and some types of cancer.
Other names: RF Blood Test
How Is Ra Diagnosed
RA is diagnosed by reviewing symptoms, conducting a physical examination, and doing X-rays and lab tests. Its best to diagnose RA earlywithin 6 months of the onset of symptomsso that people with the disease can begin treatment to slow or stop disease progression . Diagnosis and effective treatments, particularly treatment to suppress or control inflammation, can help reduce the damaging effects of RA.
You May Like: Mayo Clinic Arthritis
Also Check: What Foods Are Not Good For Arthritis
Rheumatoid Factor And Anti
One blood test measures levels of rheumatoid factors in the blood. Rheumatoid factors are proteins that the immune system produces when it attacks health tissue.
About half of all people with rheumatoid arthritis have high levels of rheumatoid factors in their blood when the disease starts, but about 1 in 20 people without rheumatoid arthritis also test positive.
A related blood test known as anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide test is also available. Anti-CCPs are antibodies also produced by the immune system.
People who test positive for anti-CCP are very likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, but not everybody with rheumatoid arthritis has this antibody.
Those who test positive for both rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP may be more likely to have severe rheumatoid arthritis requiring higher levels of treatment.
Can You Get Disability For Arthritis
Ever wonder how severe your arthritis needs to be for you to qualify for disability?
Millions of Americans and their families receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Yet, many people who may be eligible for the program are either unsure of their eligibility or are intimidated by the application process.
Before taking a look to see if your arthritis qualifies for SSDI, lets first understand what arthritis is.
Read Also: How Do You Get Arthritis In Your Ankle
Learning When You’re Stiff
RA-related stiffness is usually worst in the morning and lasts about an hour, Dr. Khan says: The fingers are tight. They have a hard time movingthey feel like the Tin Manand then as they get moving, in half an hour to an hour, symptoms get better. Any extended period of sitting or just not moving can cause RA joints to stiffen up, too. Osteoarthritis stiffness typically happens for less time later in the day, after physical activity.
Perseverance When Filing For Disability Benefits
On average, it takes three to five months to process an application for disability benefits. This delay can cause financial stress for members of myRAteam. One member said, Hoping Im not living in a cardboard box before hearing a favorable decision. Some members heard back sooner. My case only took 23 days for an answer, one myRAteam member shared.
Most people are not approved the first time they apply. An average of 22 percent of those who applied for disability benefits between 2008 and 2017 were approved on their first attempt. You can still receive benefits even if youre denied the first time. The next step is to appeal the decision. This is a simple process: you apply for reconsideration and your case will be evaluated by someone who did not take part in the first evaluation. Between 2008 and 2017, about 2 percent of those whose applications werent approved the first time were approved during reconsideration.
There is a second step to appealing, a hearing by an administrative law judge. These judges are trained in disability laws and will hear all the evidence in your disability case. You may have a lawyer represent you at this hearing. A myRAteam member recommended this: Make sure you have an attorney who specializes only in disability. Some law firms even specialize in disability hearings.
Don’t Miss: How To Know If You Have Arthritis In Knee
What Conditions May Be Confused With Ra
People with this condition often feel pain all over, in all their muscles and joints, and have multiple tender points when examined. They will also often have a degree of early morning stiffness. Poor unrestorative sleep is often present, with associated fatigue and low mood, and often there are associated symptoms of headaches and irritable bowels and bladder. Investigations tend to be normal. It is important to distinguish this condition from rheumatoid arthritis as their management is very different, although sometimes both conditions are present.
This condition causes pain and stiffness of the shoulders and thighs and tends to occur in people over 65 years of age. It is more common in females. Sometimes elderly people with RA present with similar symptoms. PMR is treated by a course of steroid tablets where the dosage is gradually reduced over months and can generally be stopped after about 18 months 2 years. In people with RA presenting with PMR type symptoms, the correct diagnosis of RA usually becomes apparent when the patient is unable to reduce the steroid dosage below 10mg.
Also Check: Can Osteoarthritis Turn Into Rheumatoid Arthritis
What Should Be Done If Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Suspected
Any person who is suspected of having RA should be referred to a specialist rheumatologist. Early referral is important so that disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs may be prescribed as soon as possible so as to slow or halt the disease process. Delay in referral or receiving a definitive diagnosis and treatment can result in significant costs to the individual, particularly those who are employed. This is because joint damage occurs most rapidly in the early stages of the disease, and often the treatment drugs can take several months to work.
Investigations can be normal in rheumatoid arthritis, particularly early in the disease, and therefore there is no need to wait for results before the referral. In cases where it is felt that the most likely diagnosis is one of the conditions mentioned above then it is probable that you would be reviewed with the results of your investigations as these do not require an urgent referral. The Scottish equivalent of NICE also advises early referral. Both guidelines emphasise the importance of the history of what has been happening. As there is a strong genetic element to rheumatoid arthritis, it is very helpful to let your GP know if other members of your family are also affected by RA or another auto-immune condition.
You May Like: Can I Take Tylenol Arthritis With Xarelto
Diagnosing Ra In Outlier Patients
Some cases of RA may be different or more difficult to diagnose then others, and certain routine tests and exams might not be as helpful. These include patients with a very recent onset of disease, people whose RA is inactive, and those with seronegative RA.
In these situations, making an RA diagnosis may take more time, or more weight may be given to certain factors, but RA can still be accurately established.
In people with inactive RA, for example, a rheumatologist may rely less on CRP and ESR tests and more on RF and anti-CCP tests, as well as evidence of characteristic joint erosions on imaging, if the disease has been present for long enough to develop erosions.
Ask A Laboratory Scientist
This form enables patients to ask specific questions about lab tests. Your questions will be answered by a laboratory scientist as part of a voluntary service provided by one of our partners, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. Please allow 2-3 business days for an email response from one of the volunteers on the Consumer Information Response Team.
Don’t Miss: How Does Arthritis In The Knee Feel
Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About An Rf Test
An RF test is not used to diagnose osteoarthritis. Although rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis both affect the joints, they are very different diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects people at any age, but usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. It affects more women than men. Symptoms may come and go and vary in severity. Osteoarthritis is not an autoimmune disease. It is caused by the wear and tear of joints over time and usually affects adults over the age of 65.
Ra Blood Tests: What Lab Tests Show Rheumatoid Arthritis
To diagnose rheumatoid arthritis there is no one test that can on its own reach a diagnosis. Instead, there are a number of criteria that must be established in order to reach a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.
As part of the criteria for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis, doctors will order multiple blood tests. These blood tests look for specific indicators that support the possibility that the patient could have rheumatoid arthritis.
Also Check: What Does Tylenol Arthritis Look Like
Ra Diagnosis: What Criteria Are Used To Diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis
If a patient is showing early signs and symptoms of RA, a doctor can refer the patient to a rheumatologist a physician who specializes in arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. The rheumatologist will work with the patient and the patients primary care physician to reach a RA diagnosis and provide treatment.
Because there is no exact known cause of RA, doctors look at a number of different factors before reaching a diagnosis. To reach a diagnosis, physicians follow a set procedure looking for multiple criteria, rather than one individual test. This includes examining physical symptoms, looking at family and personal medical history, and performing blood and other diagnostic tests .
Some cases may be easier to diagnose than others, especially in the early stages of developing symptoms when symptoms may be less clear. Doctors work hard to ensure theyve looked at all possibilities and that their examination and testing results are consistent with most cases of RA.