Rheumatoid factor is found in the serum of 85% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
In nearly all patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the wrist, metacarpophalangeal joints, and proximal interphalangeal joints are affected, whereas the distal interphalangeal joints are spared.
Distal interphalangeal joints and large weight-bearing joints are most commonly involved in osteoarthritis.
The typical x-ray finding in rheumatoid arthritis—periarticular bone erosion (loss of joint space)—may not develop until later in the disease process, when the diagnosis has already been made based on clinical findings.
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