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Initial Diagnosis..What You Should Know..

I came across some information from the Mayo Clinic on how to prepare for your initial doctors appointment and what to expect. Hopefully it will help prepare those of you who are in the early stages of being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. When I was initially diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I had no clue what it meant. I was basically told it was an auto immune disease that causes my body to attack itself, primarily my joint tissue. With that information, I thought, OK, so now I understand why I am in pain. But I really didn’t understand all the other symptoms I was having and how they related to me being diagnosed with RA.  Without understanding there was a connection between certain things I was experiencing and RA, during my first few visits I only focused on discussing a few symptoms primarily focusing on pain. Why, because that is what I understood RA to about, PAIN. Now, years later after much research and discussions with my doctor, I understand a RA diagnosis is more than experiencing pain. I should have also been discussing pain management, fatigue, anxiety, appetite, exercise and various other issues. Hopefully this information will help to provide you with a more informed office visit.

Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic staff

While you might first discuss your symptoms with your family doctor, he or she may refer you to a rheumatologist — a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions — for further evaluation.

What you can do
Write a list that includes:

  • Detailed descriptions of your symptoms, including when they started and if anything makes them better or worse
  • Information about medical problems you’ve had in the past
  • Information about the medical problems of your parents or siblings
  • All the medications and dietary supplements you take
  • Questions you want to ask the doctor

What to expect from your doctor
During the physical exam, your doctor will check your joints for swelling, redness and warmth. He or she will also check your reflexes and muscle strength.

In addition to the physical exam, your doctor might order imaging and laboratory tests to help determine the cause of your signs and symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages because its early signs and symptoms mimic those of many other diseases. And no one test or physical finding confirms the diagnosis.

Blood tests
People with rheumatoid arthritis tend to have an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, or sed rate), which indicates the presence of an inflammatory process in the body. Other common blood tests look for rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies.

X-rays
Your doctor may recommend X-rays to help track the progression of rheumatoid arthritis in your joints over time.

www.mayoclinic.com

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