What Do The Results Of A Rheumatoid Factor Blood Test Mean
A positive RF test indicates that the body is producing higher-than-average amounts of those antibodies. Most medical centers consider the normal range of rheumatoid factor to be up to 10 IU/mL or 20 IU/mL, says rheumatologist Steffan Schulz, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine with Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. If the range starts at 20 and the person has 22, thats a very low positive and might not have much clinical weight, he says. But if is 600, that might have more clinical weight.
How To Test For Rheumatoid Factor
Testing for rheumatoid factor is done through a blood test. The blood is drawn then analyzed for the presence of this particular protein. If the results show a certain level of rheumatoid factor, then the test is said to be positive. Rheumatoid factor tests can also detect lower levels of rheumatoid factor, but the test result is not considered positive unless it crosses that threshold.
What Is Rheumatoid Factor
The immune system is an organized method through which the body fights off infections caused by bacteria, viruses and other organisms. A normal immune response to infection often involves the production of proteins such as antibodies to kill these invading organisms.
Sometimes, however, certain antibodies produced by the immune system may attack healthy proteins. In other words, the antibodies turn against the persons body damaging their health in the process.
When this occurs, the immune response that is triggered may result in what we now know as an autoimmune disorder. A variety of conditions have been shown to occur from these autoimmune responses.
Rheumatoid factor is one of many antibodies that are known to attack healthy tissue through an autoimmune process. When;triggered, rheumatoid factor antibodies attack the healthy tissue resulting in a variety of symptoms.
Typically, these symptoms cause inflammation in the synovium a layer of soft tissue on the inner surface of joints, eventually leading to rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid factor can also cause other symptoms seen in autoimmune disorders like Sjogrens Syndrome.
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Why Else Could Rheumatoid Factor Be Positive
Tested randomly, a positive RF result could sometimes show up in a person without arthritis or other autoimmune disease symptoms, but who has a family history of them, such as RA. But that doesnt mean theyll develop autoimmune problems. Without clinical correlation, it doesnt mean much, says Dr. Schulz. It also is more likely to be higher in healthy older patients.
Natural Remedies For Lupus And Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some natural foods like omega-3 fatty acids, ginger, and turmeric are useful for lupus management. Intensive mind therapies through meditation are also helpful. For rheumatoid arthritis, changing your lifestyle is crucial. Apart from your diet, exercise, rest, and body meditation can also help. Omega fatty acids, Indian frankincense, turmeric, and cumin are vital ingredients in managing rheumatoid arthritis.
The clinical manifestations of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are almost similar. Researchers are still grappling why the immune system turns to attack its tissues. Some recent blood tests for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are revealing positive strides in science. It is the hope of many that an effective remedy will come out soon.
Doctor, author and fitness enthusiast, Ahmed Zayed, MD, is a surgery resident with a passion for helping people live a happy healthy life. He is the author of numerous health-related books and contributor to several medicine, health and wellbeing websites.
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Who Should Take This Test
Anyone experiencing joint inflammation, joint pain/stiffness, loss of appetite or recurring bouts of fatigue should consider taking the imawareâ¢ rheumatoid arthritis test. Anyone that has a family of history of RA should also be screened. This test is designed to provide awareness of RA before symptoms appear, as the average onset age for rheumatoid arthritis is between 30 and 60 years old.
The Role Of Blood Tests
Blood tests dont provide a simple yes-or-no answer to whether you have RA. But they can help your doctor steer toward a diagnosis. Blood tests narrow down options and suggest how your disease might progress.
After you receive a diagnosis of RA, continued blood tests will monitor the side effects of drugs used in treatment. They can also help track the progression of the disorder.
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Treatment Of Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis
Just like seropositive rheumatoid arthritis, seronegative rheumatoid arthritis cannot be reversed.;
Treatment of this disorder is focused on alleviating pain and discomfort associated with inflammation around the body. Treatment can also slow the progression of this disease, or stop the progression altogether.;
Its important to listen to your body and be aware of the signs and symptoms of RA, because the earlier we can detect this disorder, the greater our chances are of slowing its progression. Seronegative RA causes serious damage to the joints and bones because the body attacks the synovial tissues that cushion the bones. When the synovial tissue and supporting cartilage deteriorate, the bones no longer have the padding they need, and they start to rub against each other, which deteriorates the bones over time.
The symptoms of seronegative rheumatoid arthritis can be treated with NSAIDs medications, like ibuprofen. NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce inflammation and alleviate pain associated with joint swelling. These medications can increase range of motion, as they reduce the swelling that causes stiffness and inhibits movement.
Other medications, specifically disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs , can be taken to slow joint damage caused by seronegative RA. Sulfasalazine is a common DMARD used to slow the progression of seronegative RA and psoriatic arthritis.;
Can My Doctor Use Imaware Results
Yes. All of our tests are performed by CLIA-certified labs, the gold standard in lab testing quality regulation. Within your results report you will also find detailed information intended for your healthcare professional. They can use this information to interpret your test results clearly. To see an example of this, you can request a sample report at the top of this page.
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What Does The Test Measure
Rheumatoid factor testing measures the amount of the rheumatoid factor in the blood. There are several ways to measure RF, one of which is an antibody titer test. Antibody titer tests detect how much of a specific type of antibody is present in the blood.
The development of RF and how it affects the body is not well understood. Researchers believe that rheumatoid factors may be the result of the bodys response to pathogens, like bacteria or viruses, and other triggers that confuse the immune system.
Assessing Your Physical Ability
If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, your specialist will do an assessment to see how well you’re coping with everyday tasks.
You may be asked to fill in a questionnaire on how well you can do things like dress, walk and eat, and how good your grip strength is.
This assessment may be repeated after your treatment, to see if you have made any improvements.
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The Role Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Testing
Rheumatoid arthritis testing is used to diagnose RA, evaluate the severity of a patients disease, monitor treatment, and detect potential side effects of treatment drugs:
- Diagnosis:;Diagnostic testing helps determine the cause of a patients symptoms. If a doctor is concerned that a patients symptoms may be related to rheumatoid arthritis, testing can assist in diagnosing RA and ruling out other health conditions.
- Evaluating severity:;The results of several laboratory tests can inform doctors about the severity of a patients RA, the amount of joint damage, and the prognosis or expected course of the disease.
- Treatment monitoring:;Monitoring patients diagnosed with RA involves regular medical care, including doctors visits, laboratory testing, and imaging tests. Combining these strategies can assist doctors in tracking the progression of RA and understanding if treatment is effective.
- Detecting side effects:;Testing may also be used to detect side effects caused by treatment drugs, as well as other health conditions that are more common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and diabetes.
How Rheumatoid Factor Affects Prognosis
Determining a prognosis for rheumatoid arthritis patients can be a complicated process. The disease affects different people in different ways. A prognosis can depend largely on the type and severity of symptoms the patient displays, as well as their medical history.
Many doctors and researchers feel that a positive rheumatoid factor test result may predict a more severe pattern of symptoms and overall disease course. Extra-articular symptoms like rheumatoid nodules may be more likely to form in patients who have positive rheumatoid factor blood test results. Other aggressive symptoms, though rare, could be more likely to occur in rheumatoid factor positive patients. These may include symptoms due to an autoimmune effect on the lung and heart.
Rheumatoid factor-positive patients may also have a higher disease activity score, meaning frequent flare-ups and fewer remission periods.
Keep in mind this isnt always the case. If rheumatoid factor is tested and symptoms are detected early, a diagnosis can be quickly reached. Early diagnosis means treatment can begin sooner, hence preventing further progression;of joint damage, swelling and pain.
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Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Always Show Up In Blood Work
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The C Reactive Protein
The CRP also measures the degree of inflammation in the joints. The CRP is a protein produced in the liver when there is inflammation anywhere in the body. Special techniques have to be used to measure;the CRP. The more inflammation in the joints,;the higher the CRP. The CRP is a more sensitive measure of inflammation than the ESR. This is because,;in the normal situation,;there is very little if any CRP in the blood.;
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The Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate
The ESR measures the degree of inflammation in the joints. Blood is taken and placed in a small, thin tube,;and the distance the red cells settle in one hour is measured. The more rapidly the red cells settle the more inflammation in the joints. One of the aims of treatment is to reduce the ESR to normal levels.;
Blood Fluid And Tissue Tests For Arthritis
Checking blood, tissues and various body fluids help doctors diagnose and monitor arthritis.
Blood and other lab tests play a critical role in diagnosing and monitoring arthritis. When your doctor needs to confirm an;arthritis diagnosis, monitor disease progress, check medication effectiveness;or determine if medications are causing potentially dangerous but not evident side effects, lab tests are ordered.;
Most tests require drawing and testing the blood, but some may involve testing urine, joint fluid or even small pieces of skin or muscle. ;
Diagnosing and Monitoring Disease Activity;
If your doctor suspects you have inflammatory arthritis, these are the most common tests used to diagnose as well as monitor the disease:;
Other Lab Tests
- Skin biopsy; A small piece of skin is removed by a doctor.; Its usually done under local anesthetic. The sample is tested in a lab and the results help determine the presence of lupus, vasculitis and psoriatic arthritis.
- Muscle biopsy; A doctor takes the tissue sample from a muscle with a biopsy needle. The sample is reviewed for signs of damage to muscle fibers to help confirm a diagnosis of polymyositis or vasculitis.;
- Joint fluid tests; A doctor removes a small amount of fluid from a joint to determine the presence of uric acid and diagnose gout.
Monitoring Medication Response and Side Effects ;
Checking for Comorbidities;
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What Happens During A Rheumatoid Factor Test
The rheumatoid factor or the RF test is a blood test wherein a blood sample is taken from the upper part of your arm. For it, you will be asked to: Sit in a comfortable position and wear a half-sleeved top or shirt. The technician will clean an area of your skin with an antiseptic solution. An elastic band or tourniquet will be tied around your arm. This will make the veins visible. A needle is inserted into the vein. The blood is withdrawn and collected to a vial or syringe. -The puncture site is pressed with a cotton swab or a band-aid is applied to the spot.The blood sample is then sent to the laboratory for testing for the RF antibody.
Blood Tests For Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Rheumatoid factor test: The RF test looks for rheumatoid factor antibodies present in the blood. These are the first autoantibodies collected in people with RA and found in tissue lining your joints. Autoantibodies are produced in autoimmune conditions like RA when the body starts attacking its own cells.The results of the RF test are reported as units per milliliter . Normal levels of RF antibodies in your blood are less than 40 to 60 u/mL. A higher number indicates a positive RF result and points towards RA. However, the RF antibodies are not exclusive to RA, they can also show up if you have other autoimmune disorders. Such conditions can include hepatitis, leukemia, and lupus. Not all people with RF have RA. The test results need to be correlated with other clinical findings, other tests and validated thoroughly through an expert physician.;;
- Complete blood count : The CBC test looks for different types of blood cells in the blood along with certain other blood parameters. Low hemoglobin and hematocrit values may be associated with RA.
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What Causes Rheumatoid Factor
It is not exactly known what causes rheumatoid factor to develop in the blood. However, it is thought to be a combination of genetics and other external risk factors. The uncertainty may be because certain people have low levels of rheumatoid factor, which may not ever be enough to trigger a significant autoimmune response.
On the other hand, people who have high levels of rheumatoid factor may go on to develop autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, while others with elevated rheumatoid factor may not develop an autoimmune disorder. It isnt completely known what triggers the autoimmune response that causes rheumatoid arthritis.
Blood And Pathology Tests For Arthritis
Before any tests are done, the doctor will ask you about your symptoms and will often examine you for signs of arthritis or other autoimmune features. Then tests may be done.
Your symptoms and signs on physical examination are more important for making a diagnosis than the results of the tests.
What are blood tests and pathology tests used for?
- Confirming a diagnosis of arthritis or autoimmune disorder
- Monitoring disease activity and response to treatment
- Checking for side effects from medicines
Are all types of arthritis diagnosed by blood tests?
Most forms of arthritis can be diagnosed by blood tests. The doctor may use blood tests to provide support for the diagnosis made on the symptoms and signs, or to help rule out other types of arthritis or conditions that cause similar symptoms. No blood or pathology tests may be required to diagnose some conditions such as osteoarthritis or chronic back pain.
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How Accurate Is The Rheumatoid Factor Test
Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be diagnosed with a blood test alone. The RF test is helpful in making the diagnosis of RA, but it isnt foolproof. Notably, this test produces both falsepositive and false-negative results.
Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be diagnosed with a blood test alone. The rheumatoid factor test is helpful in making the diagnosis of RA, but it isnt foolproof.
With a false-positive result, a positive RF test doesnt necessarily mean that you have RA. Many reasons other than the presence of RA can cause a person to test positive for RF. For example, the following autoimmune diseases are associated with elevated RF levels:
- Sj?grens syndrome
A variety of infections may also be associated with a positive RF test:
- Bacterial endocarditis
Finally, the following conditions may also produce a positive test for RF:
- Diffuse interstitial pulmonary fibrosis
- Multiple vaccinations
- Medication reaction
- Improper handling of the blood specimen
- An organ transplant from a person not related to you
Several conditions are characterized by painful swollen joints but are not associated with elevated RF levels:
- Reactive arthritis
Crooked or bent; refers to stiffening of the joint.
Facts You Should Know About Rheumatoid Factor
- Rheumatoid factor is an antibody that is detectable in the blood of approximately 80% of adults with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Rheumatoid factor test is used by health care professionals to help in diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis.
- Sometimes rheumatoid factor can be detected in the blood of normal individuals and of those with other autoimmune diseases that are not rheumatoid arthritis.
- In people with rheumatoid arthritis, high levels of rheumatoid factor can indicate a tendency toward more aggressive disease and/or a tendency to develop rheumatoid nodules and/or rheumatoid lung disease.
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Can The Test Be Done In Children
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis or JRA often referred to as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis or JIA is an autoimmune disorder that is quite common in children below 17 years of age. It can trigger many symptoms like joint pain and inflammation, stiffness, and even can affect the childs overall growth.If your child is JRA positive, your doctor may ask you to do several tests including the rheumatoid factor test, which is the most common tool to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.;