11 Diseases That Mimic Rheumatoid Arthritis
Vasculitis – Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and giant cell arteritis (GCA) can occur with symmetrical polyarthritis. Most often, a detailed medical history from these patients can help distinguish PMR or GCA (e.g., headache, along with shoulder and hip pain). In some cases, diagnosis may depend on observation of the disease over time. In other words, serious complications can develop over time that point to a vasculitide. Systemic vasculitis can also manifest with polyarthritis. Wegener’s granulomatosis can be rheumatoid factor positive.
Osteoarthritis – The absence of signs and symptoms of systemic inflammation, onset in older adulthood, and the pattern of joint involvement (asymmetric) are often enough to distinguish osteoarthritis from rheumatoid arthritis. “Erosive osteoarthritis can have an inflammatory appearance on examination, but it tends to involve the PIP joints primarily, is not associated with proliferative synovitis, is not RF (rheumatoid factor) positive, and has a distinct radiographic appearance”, reports the Cleveland Clinic.
Gout – Acute gout usually is associated with asymmetric monoarticular or oligoarticular inflammation and arthritis, lasting 3 to 10 days. But, gout attacks can become more frequent, last longer, and may not resolve, leading to chronic gouty arthropathy. Gouty arthropathy can cause erosions and joint destruction. It is distinguished from rheumatoid arthritis by the absence of joint space narrowing and absence of periarticular osteopenia, according to the Cleveland Clinic.