Q: How do most patients get referred to a rheumatologist in the first place? Kremer: Usually, it’s the pain that’s perceived to be arthritis pain. Sometimes it’s muscle pain. Other times it can just be a nagging pain from anywhere that the primary care provider cannot diagnose. It’s more helpful to be referred to a rheumatologist when there are other symptoms along with the pain, such as early joint swelling. Q: What does the rheumatologist do when they see a referred patient? Kremer: We’ll take a history. Do you have morning stiffness? Fatigue? How long has this been going on? Do you have any family history of these same symptoms? After history, you do a physical exam looking for impaired joint movement, which joints are swollen, warm to the touch, difficult to move. Q: When do you take lab tests? And which tests do you start with first? Kremer: It depends on where the initial history and exams lead you. You many test for Rheumatoid factor (...
RF. ESR. Anti-CCP. ANA. CPR. No, these aren’t codes used by secret agents to communicate their missions. They’re names of blood tests used in diagnosing and managing rheumatoid arthritis. When you’re new to this disease, they can seem as mysterious and impenetrable as a secret language. What do they measure? What do the numbers mean? What’s normal, what isn’t? This post is all about demystifying RA blood tests .
RA Blood Tests
There are a number of blood tests that can be used when doctors are trying to find out if you have RA, as well as indicators of how the disease is managed. Some of the most common blood tests are:
Rheumatoid Factor (RF) . RF is a type of antibody that may be associated with inflammation. This is usually one of the first tests your family doctor will order if they suspect you might have inflammatory arthritis. However, it’s important to know that 20-30 percent of people with RA are negative for RF (also called seron...
My name is Cathee and I am currently 35 yrs old. I was diagnosed
with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 27. My introduction to RA was
rather quick. In fact, I had actually never heard of RA when I went
to see my doctor about a swollen knuckle. My finger had been
swollen for about 2 months and as I was reading through a magazine
I found an article about lyme disease. Since I spent a lot of time
hiking in the woods with my dog, I began to think I might have
contracted lyme disease from a tick. I went to my family physician
and luckily she had an instinct about what was going on with me and
sent me to see a Rheumatologist. The Rheumatologist immediately
ordered blood work and I was officially diagnosed with RA in March
of 1997. I didnt have any other symptoms at the time except
for the one swollen joint until August 1997. Literally overnight, I
became almost bed ridden. It was if I went to sleep as one person
and woke up another.
Since that fateful night, I have battled this crippli...
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