You experience joint pain (often hands, wrists, feet and/or knees), stiffness, and possibly swelling and/or fatigue, for several weeks.
You visit your GP who will ask about your symptoms, perform a physical examination and order blood tests and X-rays.
Referral to a rheumatologist
Your GP refers you to a rheumatologist (specialist bone and joint doctor) for early diagnosis and treatment if they suspect inflammatory arthritis. Starting treatment in the early stages of RA gives better long-term results.
You should expect to have an appointment within weeks. If there is a delay of more than a few weeks, ask your GP to contact the rheumatologist directly to request an earlier appointment.
Rheumatologist visit and tests
Your appointment with a rheumatologist will include:
- a review of your medical history, including your recent joint symptoms and family history
- a general physical examination
- a thorough examination of your joints, including counting of tender and swollen joints
- referral for further blood tests and imaging (eg, X-rays, ultrasound or MRI), if required.
It can take time to identify the exact cause of your symptoms and confirm a diagnosis.