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Is my mother suffering from rheumatoid arthritis?

Thursday, 18 August 2011
Answered by: Dr Anand Malaviya
Consultant Rheumatologist, A & R Clinic, New Delhi
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Q. My 40 years old mother was rheumatoid arthritis positive for a year but after six months of treatment the ANA and RA test came negative. Is she still suffering from rheumatoid arthritis?

A.  Please do realise that for making any diagnosis, blood tests play very little role, hardly 10-15%. For making a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, presence of rheumatoid factor may even not be necessary because 30% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis do not have rheumatoid factor; they are called 'seronegative rheumatoid arthritis'. Also, rheumatoid factor (RF) becoming positive or negative does not play much role in the evaluation and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Actually the treatment is based upon the assessment of the number of swollen and tender joints + ESR/CRP levels + global-health of the patients + global assessment of the condition by the doctor. As you can see, rheumatoid factor does not even figure in the evaluation of a patient with rheumatoid arthritis.

A.  Please do realise that for making any diagnosis, blood tests play very little role, hardly 10-15%. For making a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, presence of rheumatoid factor may even not be necessary because 30% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis do not have rheumatoid factor; they are called 'seronegative rheumatoid arthritis'. Also, rheumatoid factor (RF) becoming positive or negative does not play much role in the evaluation and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Actually the treatment is based upon the assessment of the number of swollen and tender joints + ESR/CRP levels + global-health of the patients + global assessment of the condition by the doctor. As you can see, rheumatoid factor does not even figure in the evaluation of a patient with rheumatoid arthritis.

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