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rheumatoid factor (RF) blood test

Discussion in 'Diagnostic Guidelines and Laboratory Testing' started by Cindi, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. Cindi

    Cindi Senior Member

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    Hi all
    I had some pain and swelling at joints and had ASO,CRP and RF tests done. ASO and CRP results are okay. RF came out to be 52 IU/L Limits (0-20). Is this something to worry about? I recall that my RF was high at another test performed about 5 years ago. Is RF something that comes up to be high for CFS patients.I am wondering if I should have further tests or visit a rheumatologist which is quite difficult for me due to exhaustion.If this result is not something to worry much about,I won't bother with further tests. What do you think? Thanks.
  2. rlc

    rlc Senior Member

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    Hi Cindi, high RF results are something that should be investigated further, it can be high in all the conditions that are listed on this page http://en.diagnosispro.com/differential_diagnosis-for/rheumatoid-factor-lab-increased/10455-154.html and you will need more testing to find out if it is one of these conditions, a lot of these conditions will give the symptoms of CFS, but are treatable.

    Officially CFS patients don’t fail standard tests such as RF, but some studies have found a small number of CFS patients with high RF. So as with everything with this disease there is no one answers that fits all.

    I appreciate it is hard for you, but my advice would be that unless you have already had all the tests for all the diseases that can cause high RF it would be a good idea to see a Rheumatologist and get them to see if you do have any of the other different diseases that can cause high RF, they might find something very treatable which will ease your suffering.

    Hope this helps

    All the best
    SOC likes this.
  3. Cindi

    Cindi Senior Member

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    Thanks so much Ric. Hope i can manage taking further tests.
  4. Lotus97

    Lotus97 Senior Member

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    My rheumatoid factor was sort of high (20 IU/mL). I think it might be because I have Lyme disease. I also have symptoms of Sjogren's Syndrome which is linked to high rheumatoid factor. I was reading that Lyme can mimic or cause various autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren's.
  5. Research 1st

    Research 1st

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    Hi Cindi.

    If you possible, try to request any markers of abnormal inflammation are repeated (if your physician doesn't remind you) when trying to decipher if you may have a potential undetected condition. I'm sure this will happen as its standard practice, however, if one is undergoing this kind of thing privately its easy to get lead on a wild goose chase when it comes to the immune system.

    Often a short term virus can cause a temporary inflammatory state in the body which might abnormally
    elevate ESR, CRP, Lymphocytes etc. Also other 'blips' in the radar can cause abnormal results for reasons that are of no real concern, even if with CFS diagnosis we often want them to be as we feel so ill, any explanation other than CFS would be welcome news and understandably so.

    Looking at RF (Rheumatoid Factor) this too can be a 'one off' event I imagine. More importantly perhaps healthy individuals can have elevated RF (e.g. no symptoms of Arthritis) whilst conversely people with Arthritis (with symptoms) can have a negative RF! So what is helpful for your doctor to know is if your labs are abnormal, remain abnormal, and you have active symptoms that correlate with the test abnormality.

    Usually if considering a diagnosis such as an autoimmune illness that Lotus 97 mentioned (Sjogren's syndrome/Lupus which looks at antibodies such as ANA/ENA including anti DNA antibodies), patients usually have to wait 6 weeks or more before a second blood draw is taken of inflammatory markers to relatively rule out an infection explaining the current abnormality that might occur in lab results. When this happens, then a new diagnosis can be considered.

    To make things even more complicated a medical diagnosis can be tentative, so a wait and see approach is needed in many cases. Also I would always seek a second opinion if you were diagnosed with Arthritis as this may then exclude you from a diagnosis of CFS which could be useful if you are getting poor quality health care due to the label of CFS. Certainly people suffering with Fukuda criteria CFS (unexplained chronic fatigue) can develop other medical conditions, especially long-term, however one can debate that who knows how long one actually had undiagnosed Arthritis causing explained chronic fatigue... if this is what one is subsequently diagnosed with.

    This website can be quite useful when wanting to look up explanations for abnormal labs, although the information
    is somewhat brief.

    http://labtestsonline.org/

    As can the NIH's medline plus.

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003548.htm

    I hope you get a satisfactory answer Cindi and your levels return to normal.
    All the best.
    Nielk likes this.
  6. liquid sky

    liquid sky Senior Member

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    An elevated RF is important when accompanied by joint swelling, pain and stiffness. The best next test to do is to get an MRI of your hands. The first signs of rheumatoid swelling and inflammatory changes will be seen best by this MRI. You would need to see a rheumatologist usually to have them order the MRI.

    Do follow up, because there is very often a period of disease activity that occurs before any tests become positive. If it is RA, the earlier you receive treatment, the better the outcome. Best wishes.
    Nielk likes this.
  7. Lotus97

    Lotus97 Senior Member

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    If I have joint pain without swelling does that mean something else is causing it?
  8. liquid sky

    liquid sky Senior Member

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    There is going to be some swelling with RA. Like I mentioned, there is a period that precedes RA where you may have some of the symptoms, but no swelling or positive tests. RA often starts in the hands and feet, the small joints of the body. It tends to spare the spine except for the very top of the C-spine. Most rheumatologists will inspect your hands carefully, as they will show the first signs.

    If you have not been seen by a rheumatologist, you might want to see one. Even if they can't diagnose you right now, they will often follow you for changes and to monitor inflammatory changes/markers. It can be frustrating to be monitored and not given a sure answer, but they need to be as sure as they can before using strong drugs to modulate the immune system. Inflammatory changes can be seen with an MRI of your hands often before anything else.
  9. Lotus97

    Lotus97 Senior Member

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    A year or two before I tested 20 IU/mL for Rheumatoid Factor another doctor tested me for Rheumatoid arthritis, but she said I didn't have it. I never saw the test results. I've had pain in my hands and feet for years. The only diagnosis I ever received was fibromyalgia. It wasn't until a reoccuring rash in the area where I was bitten by a tick that I began to suspect Lyme disease. Then a few days ago I was looking over my test results from last year that I noticed the Rheumatoid factor and I'm trying to figure out how that fits in with everything else.
  10. liquid sky

    liquid sky Senior Member

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    If your RF was positive, it should be repeated.
  11. Cindi

    Cindi Senior Member

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    hi all

    Thank you so much for your answers.I visited an orthopedist. He said he did not think it was Rheumatoid Arthritis. plain x ray was taken. He said he saw an inflammation on bone.Gave me some anti inflammatory and pain killer bit I did not take them as I am very sensitive to almost all medication.I kept the problem under control for some time by some diet changes,leech therapy and by taking propolis but problem keeps coming back. It is also moving around my body. it was at outer side of my left foot initially. Than bone at my left hand got effected. While I was trying to keep it under control,three days ago it jumped to my left shoulder with terrible pain and just now I noticed it is also starting at outer side of my left foot.I notice that it gets worse when I consume excess meat.I was also on adrenal cortex extracts for 10 years and I stopped using them last may. This problem started after I stopped cortex extracts. I wonder if I am having increased inflammation because of low cortisol.Sorry,I just shared all thoughts in my mind with you. I am confused and tired.I don't even know what I wish to ask. Even if I visit a rheumatologist I won't be able to use the medication he will give as I am highly sensitive to almost all medication. I need to find alternative ways to solve this problem. Any insights? Thanks.

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