Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease, where the immune system attacks the body cells. It is an inflammatory disorder that affects many joints and tissues, leading the body parts into deformity, if not diagnosed and treated early. As the actual cause of RA is not yet discovered by our scientists, it is very hard to diagnose it. Doctors may have several blood tests and X-rays, to come to a conclusion that a patient is suffering from RA. There are some common symptoms that show an early arthritis. These symptoms may include inflammation of joints with severe pain, mainly in fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, etc. If not diagnosed early, it may affect the other organs like lungs, kidneys, eyes, etc, leading the patient to sudden death.
If a patient, find early symptoms of RA like swelling of joints or having collection of fluids around more than few joints simultaneously; stiffness of joints specially in the morning for at least one-hour; formation of nodules (a knot like structure), especially in elbows and knees where there is in the joints; and if Rheumatoid Factor is found positive in the blood tests. These symptoms may prevail in a patient for at least six weeks and the patient again may gain his health in normality but these are usually persistent.
If a doctor finds these symptoms in a patient, in order to diagnose for RA, he may go through some blood tests and X-rays to get confirmation. Though these blood tests cannot diagnose RA definitely, but can certainly help a patient for their treatment. Some of these blood tests includes: Rheumatoid Factor, Cyclic Citrullinated Peptite (CCP), Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR), Blood count, Anti-nuclear antibody, and C-reactive protein (CRP).
- Rheumatoid Factor: Rheumatoid factor is an antibody found in a patient’s blood, suffering from RA, which binds with other antibodies. These factors are found only in limited population and can increase with age.
- Cyclic Citrullinated Peptite (CCP): It is a circular peptite that contains amino acid citrulline. These antibodies are found in the blood of a patient suffering from RA. This test falls under Rheumatoid Factor.
- Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR): It is also called sedimentation rate, where the red blood cells sediment in a tube for a period of one hour. It is hematology test for non-specificmeasure of inflammation.
- Blood Count: It is a type of blood test that measures red cells for anemia. It is a condition where the count of RBC falls chronologically, and lacks to carry out oxygen to the body parts of a patient suffering from RA. But having anemia does not suggest that the patient is having RA.
- Anti-nuclear Antibody: Also known as antinuclear factor and are present in autoimmune disease like RA
- C – reactive protein Test (CRP): It is an indicator of inflammation in a patient’s body. This inflammation is more than the normal.
Some X-rays of fractures, tumors, and infections may also be taken by the doctors to diagnose RA. But it may also be done after diagnosis to locate any sort of bone development or joint damage to the patient suffering from RA. So diagnosis is very important before treatment.