ZocdocAnswersDo I have rhuematoid arthritis?

Question

Do I have rhuematoid arthritis?

My grandma has arthritis I have morning stiffness of the joints and have trouble with stairs I was recently treated in urgent care for knee inflammation and was wondering if this is enough to diagnose it

Answer

Thank you for your question, and I am sorry to hear about your symptoms. You should see your primary care physician for further evaluation of your joint stiffness, but here are some general considerations. Rheumatoid arthritis typically manifests as a gradual onset of pain, redness, and swelling (signs of inflammation) in symmetrical joints. Classically it affects the wrists, knees, ankles, and knuckles in the hands, although other joints can be involved. Morning stiffness usually lasts for more than an hour, and symptoms improve with activity throughout the day. This is to be contrasted with osteoarthritis, which most often affects the hips, knees, and a different distribution of knuckles compared to rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, osteoarthritis usually lacks the typical signs of inflammation described above, involves morning stiffness for less than one hour, and gets worse with activity. Both of these conditions are chronic and develop over the course of weeks to months. If your symptoms have been rapid-onset (ie over days), other possible diagnoses should be considered. If a single joint is very hot, tender, and associated with fever, an infection is possible. Another consideration is gout, especially if you have had a prior episode of joint swelling and pain (classically in one of the big toes). The treatments for all of the above conditions are very different, and I would recommend consultation with your primary care physician, especially as a referral to a rheumatologist may be appropriate.

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