Because May is Arthritis Awareness Month, it's critical to understand the function of each laboratory test and its significance in preventing and managing Arthritis. Patients with arthritis are frequently evaluated with laboratory tests. These can be used to identify whether a patient has arthritis and, if so, what type; how well he or she is responding to the treatment; and whether or not there are any major adverse effects.
Arthritis is a condition in which one or more joints enlarge and become tender. Pain and stiffness are caused by inflammation of one or more joints, which can worsen with age.
Common laboratory tests for:
1. Complete blood count. A full blood count test counts the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets in a blood sample. Some types of arthritis and the medications used to treat them are linked to low white blood counts (leukopenia), low red blood counts (anemia), and low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia). Hematocrit is a measurement of the amount of red blood cells (PCV, packed cell volume). The amount of red blood cells in a blood sample is counted. Anemia (low red blood cell count) is common in persons with certain kinds of arthritis.
2. Creatinine. These are used to assess kidney function. Creatinine is a waste product produced by the muscles. When it's high, it suggests the kidneys aren't doing their job of removing waste materials from the body. This blood test looks for signs of renal dysfunction.
3. C-reactive protein. When there is inflammation in the body, such as in some kinds of arthritis, this protein is raised. A high erythrocyte sedimentation rate or C-reactive protein (CRP) level in people with rheumatoid arthritis may indicate the presence of an inflammatory process in the body.
4. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or sed rate. This test, which is also known as "sed rate," detects whether or not you have inflammation. The ESR can be used to determine how much inflammation is present. The test evaluates how quickly red blood cells adhere together, descend, and settle toward the bottom of a glass tube over the course of an hour, much like sediment. The higher the ESR levels, the more inflammation there is. The ESR normally decreases as the inflammation reacts to treatment. This is an example of a test that your doctor may prescribe on multiple occasions. The rate at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of a test tube is measured. When there is inflammation in the body, it is also heightened. Some forms of arthritis cause this.
5. Rheumatoid factor. This test determines whether the blood contains a specific level of an aberrant antibody called the rheumatoid factor. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory joint disease that can cause joint alignment issues and function loss hence the majority of patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a high level of rheumatoid factor in their blood. It's crucial to remember that while a positive rheumatoid factor can help with diagnosis, the test isn't conclusive on its own. This test looks for an antibody that most people with rheumatoid arthritis have.
6. Urinalysis. The tests detect red blood cells, protein, and a range of other unusual compounds in the urine. In rheumatic disorders like lupus, the presence of these chemicals may suggest renal injury. Urine testing is done to check for renal illness, which has been linked to numerous kinds of arthritis.
7. Uric acid. These tests determine how much uric acid is present in the blood. Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood, which crystallizes and deposits in the joints and other tissues. Gout does not affect everyone who has a high uric acid level.
8. Liver enzyme tests (SGOT, SGPT, bilirubin, alkaline). These tests determine how much damage has occurred to the liver. Certain arthritis drugs have the potential to harm the liver. Aspirin, for example, has been shown to cause liver damage in rare cases, particularly in children and those with a history of liver disease. Other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can irritate the liver (hepatitis). Methotrexate can harm the liver, particularly in persons who consume alcohol.
9. Antinuclear antibody. These tests are for a collection of autoantibodies that are found in the majority of persons with lupus and scleroderma, as well as a small number of people with rheumatoid arthritis. These autoantibodies bind to antigens found in cell nuclei. Although many people test positive and show no signs of significant disease, the antibodies imply that an autoimmune illness is present. Antinuclear antibody tests are useful in the diagnosis of some rheumatic disorders involving immune system problems. This test examines the presence of different antibodies in the blood, which may be present in people who have certain forms of arthritis.
10. Complement tests. These tests determine the amount of complement proteins in the bloodstream. The reactivity of antibodies with antigens is used in complement assays. These tests are typically used to diagnose or monitor persons who have active lupus. Lupus patients usually have lower-than-normal complement levels, especially if their kidneys are compromised. The level of complement, a set of proteins in the blood, is measured in this test.
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