Medical History and Physical Exam for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Your medical history and current medical
condition help your doctor diagnose
rheumatoid arthritis. To assess your medical history,
your doctor may ask:
- How long symptoms have been present and whether
there has been any pattern to them.
- Whether there is a family
- Whether there are any other
general symptoms (fatigue, weight loss, fever).
- Whether there has
been any recent or past injury to the affected joints.
- How symptoms
have affected your daily activities of living, driving, and working.
During the physical exam, your doctor
may look at, feel, and move each joint and evaluate it for:
- Swelling, warmth, and
- Presence of fluid on the joint.
- Range of
- Joints that are affected.
- The presence of bumps
(rheumatoid nodules) over pressure points in the
During the exam, your doctor may also
do a routine evaluation of the lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys.
Why It Is Done
The medical history and physical
exam are routine parts of any medical evaluation.
Important findings in the physical exam
- Pattern of symptoms in the affected
- Presence of swelling or tenderness in the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis often causes painful, swollen, "hot"
joints and often affects the same joints on both sides of the body. Your doctor will note the location of affected joints, as well as other
symptoms, to find out whether your condition meets the
criteria for a diagnosis of rheumatoid
What To Think About
Physical findings are an important
part of the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and are also used to evaluate the
success of treatment.
Complete the medical test information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this test.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Current as of
||June 5, 2012