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Morning stiffness, fatigue, joint pain and swelling. These common initial features of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) do not differ substantially from other forms of inflammatory arthritis.1 There is also a wide range of other conditions that can mimic RA. The ambiguity and overlap of symptoms – especially in its early stages—can make RA difficult to diagnose.
Accurate and early detection can potentially save your patients from the irreversible joint damage, systemic complications, and considerable morbidity.1
Common, initial clinical features of RA include:2-4
RA affects approximately 1% of the world's population1,5
RA is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by chronic inflammation in the synovial membrane of the joint. In later stages of the disease, joint deformity and progressive physical disability5 are common, but by then, the damage is irreversible. The goal, though, is to diagnose patients earlier so that better outcomes can be achieved.
One of the most important and helpful criteria in reaching a diagnosis is the blood test to identify a specific set of antibodies that are known biomarkers for assessing RA. As not one test that can on its own reach a diagnosis, there are multiple blood tests that can be performed in the diagnostic process.
International guidelines classification criteria recommend laboratory testing for:6
Numerous international guidelines recommend RF IgM and anti-CCP as first line tests. CCP antibodies appear in the early stages of rheumatoid disease, and RF IgM is the major RF autoantibody in RA and are detected in 60-80% of RA patients.5,6
RF has proven to be the most useful disease marker of RA;8 and the association between high titer RF IgM status and a poor prognosis indicates that RF may have a role in the pathogenesis of RA. As active disease approaches, RF IgM and CCP levels surpass RF IgA levels.
If your patients are exhibiting one or more RA symptoms, testing can help provide a quicker diagnosis, while potentially ruling out other possible diseases. Testing is simple, specific and reliable. Discover how antibody testing can aid in the diagnosis of RA and why they are such a valuable tool for your practice.