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Clinical presentation and diagnosis of rheumatic disease 

Clinical presentation and diagnosis of rheumatic disease
Clinical presentation and diagnosis of rheumatic disease

Anthony S. Russell

and Robert Ferrari


July 30, 2015: This chapter has been re-evaluated and remains up-to-date. No changes have been necessary.


Chapter reviewed June 2011—minor alterations made.

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date: 19 September 2021

Most rheumatological diagnoses are made through effective history taking and physical examination rather than investigation.

Systemic symptoms, such as weight loss, anorexia, and fever, point to systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, other polyarthritides, systemic lupus erythematosus, polymyalgia, and vasculitides. Swelling of joints is a symptom commonly reported by patients with no objective evidence of this on examination. Inflammatory arthropathies should not be diagnosed unless the physician is able to identify objective swelling, if necessary by arranging a prompt review during an active episode. Diagnostic criteria for the systemic rheumatic diseases are useful in directing the history taking to verify a suspected diagnosis....

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