Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Are you frustrated because your joints are stiff, painful and swollen and you’re tired all the time… yet your doctors can’t tell you what’s wrong? You may have a hard-to-diagnose form of rheumatoid arthritis. The longer it stays undiagnosed – and untreated – the greater your risk for permanent disability. You need to read this now.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. Antibodies produced by the body’s immune system attack joint tissues, causing pain, swelling and stiffness in multiple joints. These antibodies, called rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-CCP antibodies, are detectable in blood tests and help to diagnose RA.
However, up to 20 percent of people with RA have a form of the disease that doesn’t show up in blood tests – seronegative rheumatoid arthritis. In the past, doctors thought that seronegative RA was a milder form of regular (seropositive) RA. It may be that patients with seronegative aren’t producing enough antibodies to show up in current blood tests. Recent studies show that seronegative RA is just as serious as the regular kind… and for some patients can be hard to treat.
Getting Seronegative RA Diagnosed
To diagnose seronegative RA, imaging studies, such as X-ray and ultrasound, may be taken to look for joint changes. However, such changes may take time to develop. Blood tests, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), also may be done to look for evidence of generalized inflammation. But without the confirmation of antibodies, diagnosing seronegative RA is mainly based on a physical exam and symptoms.
Unlike with osteoarthritis, which usually causes symptoms in a single joint, RA causes pain and stiffness in multiple joints all over the body – including hands, knees, elbows, hips, feet and ankles. Joints, especially knuckles but also throughout the body, are evaluated for swelling and stiffness… and then monitored over at least six weeks or longer for any progression of swelling and stiffness.
In addition, doctors check for…
• Morning stiffness that lasts longer than 30 minutes after waking and gets better with movement.
• Joint swelling or redness throughout the body.
• Unusual fatigue that can’t be explained by other causes.
|Read on: Could you have rheumatoid arthritis and not know it?|