How Lab Tests and X-rays Help Identify RA

Laboratory Tests
There is no one single test that a healthcare provider can use to make a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, so he or she will use a combination of tests. One common test is for rheumatoid factor, an antibody (a special protein made by the immune system that normally helps fight foreign substances in the body) that is present eventually in the blood of most people with rheumatoid arthritis.
However, not all people with this condition test positive for rheumatoid factor. This is especially true early in the disease. Also, some people test positive for rheumatoid factor, yet never develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Other common laboratory tests include a white blood cell count, a blood test for anemia, and a test of the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (often called the sed rate or ESR), which measures inflammation in the body. C-reactive protein is another common test that measures disease activity.
X-rays are used to determine the degree of joint destruction. They are not useful in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis before bone damage is evident, but they can be used later to monitor the progression of the disease.

Final Thoughts

Diagnosing and treating rheumatoid arthritis requires a team effort involving the patient and several types of healthcare professionals. A person can go to his or her family doctor, an internist, or a rheumatologist to seek medical attention. A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in arthritis and other diseases of the joints, bones, and muscles.
As treatment progresses, other professionals often help. These may include nurses, physical or occupational therapists, orthopedic surgeons, psychologists, and social workers.
Top Foods to Fight Inflammation

Information About Rheumatoid Arthritis

Terms of Use
Advertise with Us
Contact Us
About eMedTV
Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2006-2019 Clinaero, Inc.
eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.