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Diagnosis Rheumatology

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis differ for each person and can be similar to other forms of arthritis and joint conditions. As a result, your doctor will use a variety of tests to diagnose the disease and to rule out other conditions.

  • Medical History Your doctor will begin by taking your medical history. This will include asking about your symptoms.
  • Physical Examination Your doctor will conduct a complete physical examination, which will include your joints as well as other parts of your body.
  • Laboratory Tests You will be tested for the rheumatoid factor, which is an antibody that is present in the blood of most patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, not all people with rheumatoid arthritis test positive for rheumatoid factor and some who do test positive never develop the disease. Other common tests include the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, which indicates inflammation in the body, as well as a white blood cell count and a blood test for anemia.
  • X-rays X-rays may be used to determine the amount of joint damage.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.