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What's next after an elevated RA Factor?

Waiting on referral to Rheumatologist....anxious and scared.... what if it is RA? My PCP did a lot of blood work at the beginning of this month as I had been feeling bad for quite some time and have had redness on my face for months. DR was concerned I had lupus. She ran an ANA, CRP, Lyme test and RA latex turbid test. Everything came back normal except my RA Factor. Out of a normal reference range of 0.0-13.9 my result was a 17.9. The DR did not discuss these results with me but simply called and said RA is high, referring to rheumatologist. I have felt bad for a long time and been searching for answers for just as long. It doesn’t want to have RA but I need an answer. I am the mother of three younger children and one with significant special needs. I need to feel better and I pray that I am on the path to finding answers. The fatigue is the worst, followed by the pain and brain fog. Simple things like holding my phone or hair dryer are difficult and some mornings it's almost impossible to get going. I guess I am just looking for advice on what the next steps are if I do have RA and also maybe opinions from those who have been through the diagnostic process if it sounds like this may be what is wrong. Is a RA Factor of 17.9 a positive result?

  1. Hello Karmacola: Today I read your post, and although I've been reading posts on this site since my R.A. diagnosis in 2014, today is also my very first time to post anything on Reading about your experience felt so familiar to me, and to what I initially felt in 2014 (fear, anxiety, not knowing what this disease was about), that I felt so compelled to write something. For six months I had had terrible pain and stiffness and swelling that was so different than anything I'd ever before experienced. After those six months of pain right after my 60th birthday, I finally visited an Orthopedic specialist's office. He took one look at my swollen fingers and hands and gave me orders for blood tests and he also asked me if I'd ever been tested for R.A. I just looked at him and said in complete honesty "No" and that "I didn't even know what R.A. was." Within a short period of time, though, my blood tests did reflect positive for R.A. in the same range as you reported in your posting today. Shortly thereafter, my labs showed my C-Reactive Protein was high as well as Sedimentation Rate and a positive result for ANA. Long story short, as recommended by that Orthopedic doctor, I literally found myself within days in a Rheumatologist's office, who evaluated my symptoms, signs and labs, and immediately began an aggressive treatment plan. I had a few days at home of intensive personal research online about the nature of this disease. Thank goodness for the internet. For example, it's a tremendous help to read this web site as well as info on the Arthritis Foundation's web site. I was incredulous that I was diagnosed with R.A., and that it was something I didn't even know anything about ... neither did any of my friends or family ... but, I'm telling you sincerely that we're very fortunate to have at our disposal today's resources for treating R.A. such as a ton of info on choices of medications, specialists in the fields of Rheumatology and Immunology, and particularly the resource of finding others who also are dealing with this disease and who post online opinions, ideas, experiences and sometimes up-to-date information. You will have a lot to digest and take to heart to figure out how best to tackle this new part of your life. When you meet with a Rheumatologist, my hope for you is that an effective treatment plan will be put into place to provide relief for you on many levels. I made notes during my dr. visits (had unfamiliar terminology to acquaint myself with) and all along the way between dr. visits also, to log how I was feeling which should be very helpful for your doctor. Since 2014, I've tried several medications .... some oral medications like Arava, and prior to that, Methotrexate (MTX for short, orally and then subsequently by injection) and some biologic drugs (Remicade, Enbrel and Orencia), administered either by infusion or by injection. But I'm happy to report that I found over time that Orencia self-injections (look online for Orencia ClickJet...painless weekly self-injections), are what for me are easiest and have helped me to feel better (not exhausted, stiff, or in such pain) than I did before my 2014 diagnosis. I should also insert here that in 2014 I decided to be Gluten Free since my diagnosis; I've personally found that if I'm not gluten free, I will have more pain and intestinal problems. If I keep wheat flour out of my daily food intake, I've learned that I seem to be better off...but that's just my own personal experience. In summary, see your dr. regularly and be honest and open with them; balance life as much as you can with rest & activity; keep your appointments for regular blood/lab work as your dr. will be prescribing; take the medications as prescribed; and keep learning and checking online such as on this site, to know that you are NOT alone in dealing with R.A. With the resources at our disposal in today's arsenal against this disease, I am very, very hopeful for living well with this "New Normal" for you, me, and for anyone who's newly diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

    1. Thank you 21xp1st for the reply! I was not certain that anyone would but at 6:25 this morning my mind was racing and I needed to reach out. Knowing that it will take at least a month or more to see the Rheumatologist has certainly increased my anxiety. I sincerely appreciate your words of knowledge and experience. I now have more information about what to expect and some questions to ask when my appointment does finally come. It is good to know that forums such as this exist to help others share information, emotions and support. I have been a google machine since receiving my lab result and hope to gain more information so I can make informed decisions. As a 34 year old woman who has a demanding career and unique but wonderful and beautiful family, I need to get better for them and hope that this is the start of improving my quality of life. Again, thank you for taking the time to respond to my post. It helped me to feel a little less alone. I feel so many emotions right now, but have faith that I will learn how to cope, manage and adapt to my new life.

  2. Hi karmacola, thank you so much for reaching out! I'm so glad to see the incredible response from 21xp1st and that it was helpful to you. You are not alone here. I hope that our community can be a source of information and support for you. Diagnosing RA involves more than just labs, your Rheumatologist will assess many factors, including your symptoms, how long you've had them, joint involvement, your medical history and sometimes x-rays will be indicated. In addition to speaking with your doctor, I hope these articles are helpful to you:
    RA Diagnosis:
    RF Factor:
    and finally,
    Meeting A New Rheumatologist:
    Please let us know your questions and keep us posted on how your appointment goes. Best, Kelly, Team Member

    1. Hi Karmacola!
      I'm in a similar situation as you! I'm a 38 year old female with a husband and 14 (soon to be 15) year old son. I work part time for a PCP. About 2 years ago or so, I started feeling just blah. Not bad, but not good. It's rare that I have a lot of energy and almost always feel tired to some degree. I know that I don't always get enough rest, but this just feels different. Like, all I want to do is lay in bed all day! I finally talked to my nurse practitioner in our office about the fatigue, and long story short, she believes that I have fibromyalgia due to having extremely tender points on my body. We preceded with lab work to rule out other causes. That's when my labs showed an elevated RA factor of 29. It should have been less than 14. I went to see a Rheumatologist and she also diagnosed with me Fibromyalgia, but she wanted to run other testing. All the labs came back fine except for the RA factor was as 30. Odd things are happening. Like, I just woke up one morning with trigger finger. All was fine when I went to be, but in the morning, it was there. Another morning I woke up and went to pick something up and my left thumb hurt. Now I have some kind of bony type knot on the side of that thumb that is painful. (The knot showed up months after the soreness began). I also started having random body aches, when it feels like I have the flu but it only lasts through the evening. I do not have the classic symptoms. No obvious joint swelling, redness, pain, etc. The body aches come randomly and I haven't experienced any in a while. It's just so frustrating not knowing what is actually wrong with me. The fatigue has been so bad that my son has been unable to wake me even by shaking my shoulders! That scared me when he told me that he couldn't get me to wake up and that he contemplated calling 911. I hope we both get some answers soon, so we will at least know what we need to do! I wish you the best of luck, and please keep us posted!

      1. Viper kl115,
        Thank you for sharing your experiences! It helps greatly to know that other people are looking for answers just like me. I hate you have been feeling bad and are experiences those symptoms. I agree that the fatigue is one of the worst! I have still not received my appointment from the Rheumatologist yet. I did contact her office and they have received my referral but said it could be months out before I am actually scheduled to see her. I live in a very rural area so there are not too many options either. Gets frustrating when you feel so bad all the time. I pray that you get answers as well and please keep us posted on your progress.

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