Everything To Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis And Treatment

When people have rheumatoid arthritis, their immune system attacks the tissues in their joints. Over time, this creates pain and inhibits movement. Over two million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). But how do they know that they have this chronic auto-immune disorder?

Most patients develop RA as they age, and it can be hard to diagnose. Learn how doctors find RA, all the tests they need, and what you should know heading into the doctor’s office. Here’s everything you need to know about rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis and treatment.

How Doctors Determine Rheumatoid Arthritis

According to the American College of Rheumatology, patients must meet six criteria to be diagnosed with RA officially. First, symptoms must affect more than one joint. The symptoms must also last for at least six weeks to confirm that it’s a chronic condition.

A doctor examines a patient's X-Ray.
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Second, patients must test positive on a couple of blood tests. They must also test positive on a C-reactive protein or erythrocyte sedimentation test. Although this sounds like overkill, all of these steps are essential.