Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis in the early stages of the disease can be a complicated matter. A team effort between the patient and Doctor is necessary to rule out other diseases and pin point exactly where the pain lies. This is not always done as quickly as we would hope due to the fact that there are so many similar symptoms in various diseases.

The more clearly you can define the Symptoms on each visit, the more likely your health care provider is to recognize the symptoms for what they are rather than something made up.

There is no one test that will give a definitive answer, it is rather through a series of tests and discussions that a diagnosis will be made.

A physical exam will be performed, taking into account your medical history (description of symptoms, when and how they began).

Certain characteristics of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) will be looked for including swelling, warmth, and a limited range of motion in the joints throughout your body. You may be asked about fatigue, stiffness in the joints in the morning and how long this lasts throughout the day.

Your family doctor will recommend you to a specialist such as an internist or Rheumatologist. A Rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in arthritis and other diseases of the joint, bones and muscles.

Your doctor may recommend certain blood tests and x-rays.

One such blood test is looking for the Rheumatoid factor. An antibody generally present in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis which is a special protein made by the immune system that helps fight foreign substances in the body. This factor may indicate RA however is not present in all cases, and, occasionally is found present in someone who has no symptoms of RA.

Other blood tests include a white blood cell count, a blood test for anemia, and an ESR, (elevated erythrocyte sedimentation) which shows inflammation or another disease may be present.

An X-ray can show any damage to the effected joints, generally not present at the onset of this disease.

Studies have shown that patients who become informed and actively participate in their own care suffer less pain and often less visits to the doctor than do people who take a hands off approach to treating this disease.

Other health care providers that you may use in the treatment of this disease are nurses, physical and occupational therapists, orthopedic surgeons, psychologists and social workers.

Many people also consult a naturapathic doctor for diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis and possible treatment or Diet modifications.

Support groups and patient education or arthritis self-management programs help people to become better informed. This assists patients in participating in their own care which will create a benefit to the patient in the following ways.

    - Help a person understand the disease

    - Help you to reduce pain while remaining active

    - Help to cope physically, emotionally and mentally

    - Assist a patient in maintaining some control over their disease and a sense of confidence in leading a full, active and independent life.

Traditional Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Alternative Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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This information is not designed as or intended to be used as medical diagnosis or advice. Patients should consult their physicians about diagnosis and treatment

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