The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This may be enough to suspect rheumatoid arthritis (RA). You may be referred to a doctor who treats joint and muscle disorders. These tests may be done to confirm the diagnosis:
Blood tests will be done to look for substances that may be present with RA.
Images may be taken of the body to look for problems with the tissues and bones. This can be done with:
Arthrocentesis removes fluid from a joint with a needle.
The fluid is then tested for signs of RA.
Aletaha D, Smolen JS. Diagnosis and Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Review. JAMA. 2018 Oct 2;320(13);1360-1372.
Rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis. January 27, 2020.
Rheumatoid arthritis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal-and-connective-tissue-disorders/joint-disorders/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra. Updated December 2018. Accessed January 27, 2020.
Rheumatoid arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Rheumatic_Disease/default.asp. Updated September 2019. Accessed January 27, 2020.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra. Updated May 22, 2019. Accessed January 27, 2020.
Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 2/16/2021