Rheumatoid Arthritis

Frequently Asked Questions

6. What tests are used to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis?

There is no single, definitive test for rheumatoid arthritis.

Common tests for rheumatoid arthritis include

  • The rheumatoid factor test. Rheumatoid factor is an antibody that is present eventually in the blood of most people with rheumatoid arthritis. However, not all people with rheumatoid arthritis test positive for rheumatoid factor, especially early in the disease. Also, some people who do test positive never develop the disease.
  • The citrulline antibody test. This blood test detects antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP). This test is positive in most people with rheumatoid arthritis and can even be positive years before rheumatoid arthritis symptoms develop. When used with the rheumatoid factor test, the citrulline antibody test results are very useful in confirming a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.

Other common tests for rheumatoid arthritis include

  • the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, which indicates the presence of inflammation in the body
  • a test for white blood cell count
  • a blood test for anemia.

X-rays are often used to determine the degree of joint destruction. They are not useful in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis before bone damage is evident, but they can be used later to monitor the progression of the disease.

Learn more about how rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed.