In this article we discuss the most common five laboratory changes that will send you to a rheumatologist.
When do you get laboratory testing?
You feel sick. You go to see your doctor. After describing your symptoms, the doctor performs a physical exam and tells you you need to get some blood work. You do as you are told. In a few days, the doctor calls you that your blood work shows some changes that require further evaluation from a specialist. You get confused, stressed out and start looking on “Dr. Google” for your blood work.
Should you consult “Dr. Google”?
We suggest you STOP HERE! Although it might be very tempting to check the meaning of your positive tests, that will bring you more anxiety and exacerbate your symptoms.
What are the most common tests that will get you to see a rheumatologist?
Here are the most common five laboratory changes that will send you to a rheumatologist.
1. Positive ANA – This test is commonly ordered to screen for possible autoimmune diseases. It is not uncommon to get a positive ANA. First, you should know that having a positive ANA does not mean you have an autoimmune disease diagnosis. The rheumatologist’s role is to evaluate you further.
2. Elevated markers of inflammation – The most common tests to evaluate for inflammation are sedimentation rate and C- reactive protein. These tests can increase in many conditions from infection, autoimmune diseases, or malignancies. If you have no other signs of infection, it will be worthwhile to see a rheumatologist further.
3.Elevated rheumatoid factor – Rheumatoid factor is a test most commonly ordered when rheumatoid arthritis is suspected by your doctor. This test should be ordered in conjunction with other tests and your symptoms. Even though this test is positive, the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis needs much more than that.
4.Elevated muscle enzymes – If you had muscle pain, your doctor might have gotten muscle enzymes. If elevated can be a suggestion of muscle disease that can come from inflammation or even some medications.
5.Positive ANCA antibodies – This is a test that definitely needs the evaluation of a specialist. These antibodies are associated at times with severe diseases that can cause permanent organ damage. Time is the essence in getting a diagnosis and starting treatment. The sooner you get to see the rheumatologist, the better chances you will have.
You have the chance to better understand these tests and see if they associate with your symptoms, just schedule an appointment with our doctor today, and start your journey toward a better life.
About the authors
Diana Girnita, MD, PhD is an US board certified internal medicine and rheumatology. She completed a PhD in immunology, postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, immunology fellowship at University of Pittsburgh and rheumatology fellowship at University of Cincinnati. She is the founder&CEO of Rheumatologist OnCall, a telemedicine company that serves multiple states in the US. Dr. Girnita is a graduate of the Nutrition Science course from Stanford University. Dr. Girnita was recognized many times with “Top Doctor” award (2017-2020) and is frequently invited speaker of the US National Arthritis Foundation. Read more (link to the ABOUT US PAGE)
Aurelia Turca – is a third year medical student from University of Medicine and Pharmacy, “Gr. T. Popa” Iasi, Romania. She enjoys researching and writing medical content. Aurelia is an avid learner and her passion is microsurgery techniques. Her hobbies are painting, writing, reading and walking.