How sure can you be of diagnosis of Rheumatoid arthritis

If a rheumatologist diagnoses RA, is it always the case that you definitely have it. How many indicators are usually present? Which are the most reliable? What are the chances of misdiagnosis?

I just wondered because there does seem to be some uncertainty and aggressive treatment does have its downsides. Is it ever possible to come off treatment if symptoms disappear for a long period of time?




    Hi @Fif and thank you for posting on the forum

    Generally, it is thought that the earlier you begin treatment the better because, once the damage to the joints has taken place, it is irreversible. There are several forms of inflammatory arthritis with overlapping symptoms so, because it can sometimes take quite some time to identify the specific type, sometimes a rheumatologist will treat without giving a specific diagnosis of RA. In other words, the rheumatologist is trying to intervene early before the damage to the joints occurs.

    RA is a variable condition, so doctors do not start all people with RA or other types of inflammatory arthritis with the same drug treatment. The treatments will depend on varying factors including the severity of symptoms and how long you have had them as well as test results. 

    It is important to discuss your concerns around diagnosis and treatment with your rheumatologist. It seems like you have quite a few questions so I wonder if you would like to give us a call on our helpline: 0800 5200 520 (weekdays 9am – 6pm) where we can talk this through informally and in confidence.

    We often help to clarify things so that our callers feel empowered to have a more informed discussion with their rheumatologist.

    I have provided a link below to our RA information. The section on diagnosis may clarify things:

    I hope this is helpful.

    Best wishes


    Helpline Team



  • Fif
    Fif Member Posts: 109

    Thanks for your reply. I'll probably take you up on the offer to phone the helpline. As you say, talking things through can help with clearing the mind.