Your doctor will determine if you have RA by performing a physical examination as well as looking at the results of blood tests and X-rays. A diagnosis of RA may be made if 4 or more of the factors below are present (the first 4 factors must be present for at least 6 weeks):
- morning stiffness in and around joints lasting at least 1 hour before you are able to move around normally
- soft tissue swelling of 3 or more joint areas as determined by a doctor
- swelling in the joints of the fingers and wrists
- joint swelling of arthritis that occurs symmetrically (i.e., on both knees, both wrists, or other joints)
- large bumps or cysts (known as subcutaneous nodules or rheumatoid nodules) that appear under the skin, usually where there isn't much tissue on the bone (e.g., the elbows)
- a positive blood test for a substance called rheumatoid factor (RF)
- changes in X-rays that suggest arthritic changes in joints of the hands or wrists.