To diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, the doctor will run through several exams and tests.
An evaluation for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) includes a physical examination and careful history. In the physical exam, your doctor will assess:
The doctor will also note symptoms of fatigue, stiffness, and weakness, and he or she will also ask how the disease affects your daily life.
A neurologic exam helps the doctor understand how or if RA is affecting your nerves and nerve functions. A neurologic evaluation includes assessment of your symptoms, including:
The doctor may order lab tests to:
It's also possible that the doctor will order a urinalysis and / or a hepatic panel. The hepatic panel is used to determine your liver and pancreatic functions, and these tests provide a baseline and insight into the patient's general health.
Radiographs (x-rays) are taken of the cervical spine (RA affects mainly the neck, also known as the cervical spine). These x-rays are used to assess:
The degree of joint space, malalignment, or deformity is measured using radiographs.
A myelogram-enhanced MRI or CT scan may be performed to determine and evaluate spinal cord compression, if your doctor thinks that's a possibility.