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Symptom Checker

Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.

Positive Rheumatoid Factor

Okay so you have three or fewer painful joints for at least six weeks, with swelling. There are a number of possible explanations for your symptoms and a positive RF. See the link at the end of this page for more detailed information on these conditions.

With these symptoms and a positive RF, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one possibility, especially if your joint symptoms are worse in the morning for at least an hour. However, in RA, there are usually many more joints involved, often six or more.

And there are other considerations, such as:

  • scleroderma - especially if you have color changes in your fingers and/or toes caused by cold, or tight, shiny skin over your fingers.

  • Sjogren's syndrome - especially if you have dry eyes and dry mouth

  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) (also known as lupus) - especially if you have had a rash on your face, sensitivity to the sun, pleurisy (chest pain with breathing), seizures, or certain blood test abnormalities. Another antibody, called the antinuclear antibody (ANA) is nearly always positive in people with SLE.

  • infection - although somewhat unusual to affect this many joints for a prolonged period of time, certain infections, especially viruses such as hepatitis C or parvovirus occasionally cause arthritis that goes on longer than six weeks.

 If you have had fevers of more than 100.8F, it becomes particularly important to see your doctor to have an evaluation for an infectious cause of fever, arthritis and a positive RF.

Would you like more information about the rheumatoid factor and various forms of arthritis?

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