Many people worrying about their health want quick answers. If you have concerns about arthritis you may want to know if there is a rheumatoid arthritis test or similar. The simple answer is no. There is no single test which gives a definite diagnosis of the condition, especially in the early days. The diagnostic process will involve several tests. A lot of the diagnosis will depend on your symptoms but it may incorporate other testing such as x-rays and blood tests.
What Rheumatoid Arthritis Test can I expect?
While there is no single rheumatoid arthritis test you may be offered specific blood tests and x-rays.
Blood Tests for Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are blood tests which measure inflammation. You may be offered either a erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test or a C-reative protein (CRP) test. Both these tests will show a high value if there is inflammation. They may also show anaemia which can be used to detect rheumatoid factor, an antibody created by a reaction within the immune system. Around 80% of people who have rheumatoid arthritis have positive rheumatoid factor tests. It not enough of an indicator on its own.
X-Rays for Rheumatoid Arthritis
X-rays to the area you experience pain will show if there has been any joint damage due to the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. Changes due to the condition often appear in the feet first so you may find you are booked for foot x-rays even if you are not experiencing pain in them.
Other Rheumatoid Arthritis Tests
Although not necessarily effective, some doctors are looking into using MRI and ultrasound scanning in the diagnosis process. They may have a key role in monitoring the condition’s progress and there is a chance they will become more commonly used in the diagnostic process too.
The initial testing you experience when you receive a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis will not be one-time experience. The same blood tests and x-rays will take place semi-regularly to monitor the development of your arthritis. They can also help with medication reviews and looking at new treatment options.