It is often difficult to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A specialist in RA (known as a rheumatologist) is usually required to establish the diagnosis.
The diagnosis of RA is made based on the careful analysis of many factors. A thorough history and physical examination are essential. Also, there are certain laboratory studies that can be helpful when considering the diagnosis. It is important to note that a diagnosis cannot be made based on any specific blood test, though some blood tests are helpful for ruling out other diseases that may have similar symptoms. X-rays are often helpful when considering the diagnosis of RA, particularly to look for any signs of joint destruction.