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Why are my blood tests negative for the rheumatoid factor?

I am almost certain I have RA. My mother and grandmother had it and I have all the symptoms, although it started at a younger age for me. But my blood tests always come back negative for the rheumatoid factor. Subsequently, I can't get a Dr to take me seriously. Is this common? Or do I have some other disease? Thanks

  1. Thanks for writing to us Joshoo! I am sorry to hear that you haven't been able to get a definitive diagnosis. While diagnosing RA can be a frustrating process, I was wondering if you were working with a Rheumatologist? If you are not or even if you are here is a link to find one in your area: I know others have found this link to be helpful.

    Here is another article that I thought might resonate.

    I hope this information is helpful and please do reach out anytime.
    Lauren (RheumatoidArthritis.met Team)

    1. Joshoo, I had a knowledgeable PCP that looked not only for the RF factor but several other markers that can give a definite diagnosis. One of my markers was a high C-reactive protein, elevated EOS and of course white blood cell count.
      If you have a physician that only looks at a positive RA factor for an RA diagnosis, with all due respect, find another Dr. Most of the time a Rheumatology visit must have a referral from your PCP. If this is your case, a Family or General Practitioner can still order the tests.
      If you find a quality Rheumatologist, they will test for EVERY autoimmune disease known to Medicine because autoimmune diseases often work in groups. When a patient is found to have one, a 2nd and 3rd are often diagnosed within the first several yrs of the 1st diagnosis.
      Hang in there! It took me 3 yrs to get a positive diagnosis and the disease had already affected my eyes, connective tissues, ligaments and tendons leading to emergency knee surgery when, without warning, while I was simply standing, texting on my phone, there was a loud pop in my knee and I couldn't least until surgery.

      Let us know,

  2. Here's a link to seronegative RA, which describes my own as well. Tis real.

    1. Hi Joshoo: About 40% of the people with RA are R-factor negative, meaning that the test doesn't confirm they have RA. I am one of those people and not only does my R factor test come back normal, usually my other labs are also normal, even when I have swollen, tender joints. Fortunately I have a rheumatologist that looks at the whole patient and not just test results. The advice to seek out a rheumatologist is a good one because unlike an internist or a GP, they're used to dealing with patients with all kinds of test outcomes. Even if your symptoms aren't diagnosed as RA, the rheumatologist is an excellent resource to help determine what is going on. Good luck!

      1. I would ask to be referred to a good rheumatologist. As others have mentioned there are other blood tests. Anti-CCP is much more specific to rehumatoid arthritis than RF which is an older test. Anti-CCP can indicate a more aggressive form of the disease.
        GPs may not know to test for it or CRP which will show more general inflammation. Even if all these tests are negative they should conduct MRIs of areas that hurt to check for Synovitis and lesions that don't show up on x-rays for a definitive diagnosis. I was actually diagnosed by a hand specialist at Mayo Clinic that ordered all proper blood work Ant-CCP, CRP, Sed rate and RF, ANA and MRIs of my wrists and elbows. He then sent me to the rheumatologist.

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