Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.
Positive Rheumatoid Factor
Based on your symptoms, you could have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The diagnosis is most likely when symptoms have been present for at least six weeks and no other symptoms (such as high fever or rash) or other conditions are present that could explain your joint trouble in some other way. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in how well you do, so it is important to contact your doctor for prompt evaluation.
Keep in mind that even if you do have RA, there are mild forms that can be treated with mild medicines, and while you may read that RA can be "crippling" that is rare in the modern era when so many medications are available to keep the arthritis controlled. And even when joints are damaged beyond the ability of the medicines to help, surgery can usually be offered to maintain function and control pain.
It is also possible you do not have rheumatoid arthritis and that even though the joints seem swollen to you, your doctors may find no swelling and attribute your symptoms to something else, such as fibromyalgia or one of the other rheumatic diseases. Because the diagnosis cannot be made without an examination, go see your doctor soon!
Would you like more information about the rheumatoid factor and various forms of arthritis?