Diagnostic criteria for rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflamatory disease.

It is characterised by symetrical deforming poly arthritis. The disease is more common in females.

Diagnostic Criteria for Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are 7 main criteria out of which 4 sohould be present in a patient to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.

These include:

  1. Morning stifness > 1 hr
  2. Arthritis of 3 or more joints
  3. Symmetrical arthritis
  4. Rheumatoid nodule
  5. Positive rheumatoid factor
  6. Arthritis of hand joints
  7. Radiographic changes

Lets understand each of these factors in detail.

Morning Stiffness

Morning stiffness refers to stiffness in joints in the morning. Usually small joints of hands are involved.

A patient suffering with rheumatoid arthiritis will complain about morning stiffness that lasts for almost an hour after waking up in the morning.

This is because the stiffness reduces as the joints are moved after waking up.

Arthritis of 3 or more joints

Next criteria is arthritis of 3 or more joints. This means that three or more joints of the body will show signs of inflammation or arthritis.

Symmetrical arthiritis

Symmetrical arthritis means that the joints on the both sides of body are involved. For example, if joints of one hands are involved then the joints of other hand are also involved.

Rheumatoid nodule

Patients suffering with rheumatoid arthritis also present with rheumatoid nodules.

Positive Rheumatoid Factor (RA Factor)

RA factor is positivie in patients suffering with rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis of hand joints

Hand joints are involved in these patients.

Radiographic changes

Involved joints show radiological changes.

Please note, that presence of any 4 of these are enough to diagnose a rheumatoid arthritis patient.

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