Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known. Researchers believe that certain factors, including heredity, may contribute to the onset of the disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects 70 percent of women and 30 percent of men. Onset of the disease most often occurs between the ages of 30 and 50.


Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult in the early stages because symptoms may be very subtle and go undetected on X-rays or blood tests. In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • X-ray: A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film.
  • Blood tests: These tests are done to detect certain antibodies, called rheumatoid factor, and other indicators for rheumatoid arthritis.