RA, acronym of rheumatoid arthritis is the autoimmune condition affecting the joints in most cases. RA diagnosis is quite hectic and lengthy as it possesses numerous symptoms similar to that of other disorders.

Apart from checking medical history and physical exam, several tests may require for diagnosing RA. However, blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis comprise of:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA)
  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
  • Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (Anti-CCP)
  • Rheumatoid factor (RF)

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Identical to that of autoimmune conditions, Rheumatoid Arthritis invades the health cells and tissues of the body. It affects the joints badly along with other body organs like the lungs, heart, and eyes. It can lead to swelling in the joints of ankles, knees, hands, and wrists. Over time you can experience other associated symptoms like swelling, stiffness and redness in the joints when the condition worsens.

Many patients also experience fatigue and mild fever at the same time. The real cause of the RA is unknown. But certain aspects trigger the risk. Frequently, it affects aged women and men. Being overweight can sometimes lead to RA. Rarely RA can result from genetics.

RF (rheumatoid factor)

RF antibody is a blood protein type secreted by the immune system. The immune system secretes it when there is an invasion on the healthy cells and tissues leading to inflammation. A blood test is really helpful in measuring RF.

As most adults have RF blood test is only reliable to diagnose it. However, it needs a combination to diagnose the matter properly as it is possible to have the condition without RF.

Interpreting result

Positive RF result depicts that there is RF in the body due to any autoimmune condition including RA. Positive RF never indicates that there is RA. Even a negative result never means that you are free from RA. Therefore, you must consult with the doctor for proper diagnose of RA and seek treatment on time.

Anti-CCP (Anti-Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide)

Anti-CCP is also known as the anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide is measurable with the help of the blood test. It has several other names. It is much identical to that of the rheumatoid factor that invades the healthy cells causing inflammation.

Most RA adults have anti-CCP and it is interesting if any develops one without this. The doctor suggests the test along with RF for the diagnosis of RA. In case a positive result comes out from both of the tests then there is a high chance that you suffer from RA.

Interpreting result

A positive result means there is a possibility of having RA. Also, the negative result can indicate that you may have RA but no antibodies at all. Positive RF and anti-CCP refer to the presence of RA. But on receiving negative results you need to perform multiple other tests.

ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate)

It is a synonym for RBCs. ESR is the test that checks for the rate of settlement of RBCs. If it is fast then you suffer from inflammation. Alike others, it is not definitive at all for diagnosing RA. It only confirms that the patients have inflammation. It can happen because of any other conditions as well.

Interpreting result

ESR is not suitable for diagnosing the specific condition. It reveals the inflammation of the body. High ESR refers to more inflammation of the body. It can indicate to the development of autoimmune conditions like cancer and infection. Slight ESR is common at the time of pregnancy, menstruation, infection, and anemia. Normal result is only possible when there is no chronic inflammation.

CRP (C-Reactive Protein)

CRP secretes in the liver and it increases when you suffer from inflammation. A blood test is helpful in measuring the CRP level. Alike the ESR test, it cannot regard as definitive for RA diagnosis and any other autoimmune condition. It is only useful to check for inflammation and to check for any other necessary tests.

Interpreting result

Low CRP defines that you have low or no inflammation in your body. Despite receiving high CRP in the test report, it never means that you have rheumatoid arthritis. It can happen due to any other inflammatory diseases and infections as well. It triggers due to poor lifestyle too like irregularity in exercising, smoking and being overweight. Consult with your doctor today!

ANA (Antinuclear Antibody)

ANA is the protein develops by the immune system. It damages the healthy cells and tissues in the body and thus testing helps in the detection of autoimmune disorders. However, it has no ability to determine any specific diseases such as RA. It can check for other autoimmune conditions resulting in arthritis, for instance, lupus.

Interpreting result

If you are found positive to the ANA test then your body has antinuclear antibodies. But positive result never means that you have RA. In fact, a negative result means that your body lacks this protein and you don’t have an autoimmune condition. In such instances, the doctor will suggest other tests for confirmation.

CBC (Complete Blood Count)

CBC is quite common which looks rare in various blood cells. It detects numerous important elements in the blood for processing the diagnosis of RA successfully. However, it cannot provide a definitive RA diagnosis.

Interpreting result

As the name suggests CBC depicts complete blood measurements and not each of them is essential for the diagnosis of RA. Different cells count for different conditions. Although high WBCs can determine if there is RA in the body yet it is not definitive at all.

Other tests

Testing for RA is not easy at all. A number of imaging tests require performing the confirmation. Moreover, they are helpful in depicting the health condition of the joints. It includes ultrasound scans, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and X-rays. Additional tests assist in ruling out autoimmune conditions. They are:

  • Serum uric acid for ruling out gout
  • Comprehensive metabolic panel for checking glucose, kidney, and liver function
  • HLA typing (genetic test) detects chances of RA-like conditions in the body
  • Serologic testing (antibody testing) for Lyme disease, HCV, HBV, and human parvovirus B19
  • Creatine kinase (CK) test inquires for damages in muscles
  • Cryoglobulin test traces out unusual protein in the blood
  • Complement blood test counts for complement blood protein related to autoimmune diseases

Your expectations at the time of the test

Fasting is not essential for RA blood tests. However, share the information if you are taking any OTC medication and supplements which can interfere with the tests. Carry the identification and make sure that the phlebotomist can withdraw the blood specimen easily.

The area of the vein will be sanitized after placing the tourniquet in the upper arm. On collecting the sample the place will seal using a bandage or cotton ball. The sample will analyze at the lab and you will receive the report through the healthcare provider within a few days.

Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis

Any single blood test can help in the detection of RA. That is the reason doctor suggests multiple testing for checking the symptoms extensively alongside medical history. But the combination of the positive test report can deliver proper RA diagnosis associated with antibodies and inflammation.

Conclusion

It seems that testing for RA for proper diagnosis and treatment is complicated. It comprises numerous tests determining on the basis of the autoimmune conditions of the patients. As RA symptoms are much identical to that of other medical complexities, final diagnosis needs time.

However, by undergoing a blood test in London you can lessen the chance of the condition. It also drops down the chance of potential side effects too. The procedure is lengthy but effective. Consult with the doctor and family physician today.