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How is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis involves blood tests and imaging tests due to the complexity of symptoms. Treatment options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, conventional DMARDs, and biologic agents.

  • 13 Feb 2024
  • 2 min read
  • 38 views

Rheumatoid arthritis(RA) is an autoimmune disorder that primarily affects the joints. The disorder causes your immune system to attack the tissue lining the joints and other parts of your body. The symptoms of the disease include pain and inflammation in your fingers, hands, wrists, feet, toes, and ankles. The uncontrolled inflammation damages cartilage and deforms your joints. The disease can cause symptoms in other parts of the body as well, including parts like the eyes, skin, mouth, lungs, and heart. 

Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis is hard in the early stages as signs and symptoms can be tough to notice. There is no single test, symptoms are different from person to person and similar to arthritis and other joint conditions. While checking for symptoms, the doctor may examine joints for swelling, redness, warmth and muscle strength. 

However, there are other tests for rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis as well. 

  • Blood test

  • Rheumatoid arthritis people often have ESR or C-reactive protein levels, which indicate a person has an inflammatory process in the body. 
  • Blood tests provide information on these things, along with information on rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies.
  • Imaging tests

  • Your physician may recommend x-rays to track the progression of RA in your joints. However, in the early stages, it is difficult to determine joint problems using this method. 
  • MRI and ultrasound can help in a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis in the early stages. Additionally, the tests evaluate damage in the joints and the severity of the disease. Other imaging tests that are helpful are CT scanning, PET scan, bone scan, and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. 

 

Treatments

There is no cure for the disease. But clinical studies indicate that taking medication from the early stages of the disorder can help you in tackling the symptoms and the pain effectively.

The medications that doctors usually recommends are:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

It can reduce inflammation and relieve pain. The Side effects of medication are stomach irritation, heart problems, and kidney damage.

  • Conventional DMARDs

These drugs slow the progress of rheumatoid arthritis and save joints and other tissue from damage. Side effects include liver damage and lung infections. 

  • Biologic agents

Biologic DMARDs are effective when paired with a conventional DMARD, such as methotrexate. This type of drug can lead to an increased risk of infections. 

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Conclusions 

In conclusion, the autoimmune disorder tends to leave people in pain and fatigue and gravely affects the lives of people, to the point where it can be debilitating. Methods such as blood tests, X-rays, MRI, and other scans can be used for a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis. While there are no cures available, ongoing research and development of technology is paving the way for improved strategies for managing this challenging condition. Remember, it's essential to have reliable health insurance coverage to support you in your journey towards managing autoimmune disorders effectively.

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