FROM OUR EXPERTS
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...
While I’m sitting on the exam table with my legs dangling, the neurologist reaches for a metal object. He’s already poked me several times with the safety pin so I’m wondering what he plans to do with this larger pointy thing. He grasps my foot and scraps the object on the bottom of my foot along the outermost side and under the toes. My big toe jumps and the other toes look like they are trying to get away from the torture device. I have just demonstrated a positive Babinski sign.
During a standard neurological exam, the doctor will test many reflexes, or involuntary responses to stimuli. Much of that is done with a rubber mallet as the doctor taps various tendons and measures the response. However not all reflex tests involve the rubber mallet. One very important reflex test involves scraping the bottom of the foot.
“When the doctor scraps the bottom of my feet, what is he looking for?”
In early June, and for weeks since, news outlets have been writing about a study showing that responsibly drinking five or more servings of wine or other alcohol a week cuts the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by up to 50% . Those who drank 1-4 drinks per week cut their risk by about 20%. The researchers believe this is because alcohol is a mild anti-inflammatory. The study was performed by researchers at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden and was published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
The data consisted of two studies in Sweden and Denmark and included 2,750 men and women, 1,650 of whom had rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers found that those who drank regularly, meaning more than three drinks per week, were less likely to develop RA. The effect appeared to be greater for smokers with genetic risk factors for developin...
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