If you’re having joint symptoms that affect your everyday life — like pain, stiffness, swelling or fatigue — they could be indicators of arthritis. In addition to considering your symptoms, age, lifestyle and health history, your doctor can use blood tests to find out what’s going on.
There are several blood tests that may help diagnose, or rule out, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other inflammatory conditions. They look for several immune system and inflammatory markers that are usually present in someone who has RA. We’re here to let you know which typical blood tests to expect if you or your doctor suspect you have arthritis.
Blood Tests That Can Help Diagnose Arthritis
Rheumatoid Factor: Rheumatoid factor is an antibody (protein) found in the blood. An elevated level of rheumatoid factor along with pain in the same joints on both sides of the body is an indicator for rheumatoid arthritis.
While it’s helpful, rheumatoid factor can’t diagnose arthritis on its own. Only about 30% of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis test RF positive.
Anti-Nuclear Antibody (ANA). People with autoimmune disorders produce antinuclear antibodies (ANA) that attack healthy cells. ANA can be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, but is more common in other autoimmune disorders like lupus.
Anti-CCP Antibody Test: Anti-CCP antibodies are found in 60% to 70% of people with rheumatoid arthritis. These antibodies are directed against cyclic citrullinated peptides (CCP) and can be present before rheumatoid arthritis even develops. A positive anti-CCP test is considered quite predictive of having RA.
C-Reactive Protein (CRP): When there is inflammation in the body, the liver produces a protein called CRP. A high CRP level indicates an inflammatory condition, or an infection. CRP level is not necessarily a strong indicator of RA specifically, but supports an RA diagnosis. Doctors also use this test to monitor a patient’s response to treatment.
Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate Test (ESR): This test also screens for inflammation. The faster red blood cells (erythrocytes) fall to the bottom of a tube filled with the patient’s blood, the greater the inflammation level. Because inflammation is a factor in many conditions, this test can support the diagnosis of arthritis, but not on its own. It is also used to see how active the condition is.
AdventHealth Lab Services
If you’re experiencing symptoms that require a lab test, AdventHealth is here for you with convenient lab services and quick, accurate results. Click here to learn more, find a location near you and schedule an appointment.