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What degree of RA do I have?

I was diagnosed with RA in late March/early April this year. My RF was 33 and my sed rate was 40. Can you please tell me what this means as to what degree of RA I have. My rheumy put me on Methotrexate.

  1. Well, of course, I'm not a doctor but when I was first diagnosed with RA my RF was 3-400 (it's been 14 yrs so I don't remember exactly) but it was in that range. During a 2-yr flare, it went into the 500s. My sed rate at it's lowest was 60. My dr. also does a CRC test and she thinks that is the best diagnosis of how the inflamation is doing, but I thought my RF was a clearer measure. The first time it came down into the 90s was the first time I began to feel the treatments working. I think it hasn't gone much lower over the years, no matter what. I was treated right away with Methotrexate also and prednisone as well as adding and subtracting other "usual" drugs like Arava, sulfasalzadine, and several others. They each worked for a while. I consistently took Methotrexate for the first 10 yrs until I developed a sudden severe allergy to it, and can not take it ever again. I've tried 4 biologic meds; Humira, Enbrel, Orencia, Xeljanz. Orencia is the only one that worked.

    If you have easy access to a computer, try typing in "Rheumatoid Factor normal reading" and also "google" about what the Sed Rate tells the Dr. I think that will give you an answer. But remember, that was only at ONE point in your disease. It could change in a day, a year, or you might be a very lucky person that has a mild case of it.

    I believe the best way to treat it that I've read, was to attack it right away with medication to keep it from deforming the joints as soon as possible. I think that was why I was able to work for 5 yrs before I had to begin disability due to pain and that long term (2 yr) flare. My doctor was very agressive in my treatment.

    I had many complications to my internal organs from RA, heart, lungs, stomach, and many many bouts of pneumonia because of the steroids lowering my immune system along with the biologics. There is a happy medium of medicines that reduce your immune system so it slows down the inflammation but not lowering it too much so that you catch every cold or flu that comes near you. You and your doctor will find that 'happy medium' together I hope and you will begin to live as normal a life as you can from here on out.

    By the way, I was about 50+ when I was diagnosed, but we have people on this site of all ages when they were diagnosed. Some who have lived with it for 40+ yrs and have a lot of good advice and understanding to those who are just beginning to adjust to having RA

    You didn't say whether the Methotrexate had helped with the pain or swelling. I hope it has at least helped, it sometimes takes a while in the beginning. But don't be afraid to go back to the Dr. if you are still having severe pain or inflammation. Best of luck

    1. Thanks for writing Flickertail26. The stages of RA are certainly difficult to define and numbers may not tell the whole story. This article from our editorial team examines the RA stages and progression:

      In addition, this article from one of our contributors who has had RA for most of her life looks at living with what is termed "end stage" RA: She writes about how stages are clinical terms, but won't stop her from living her life. Best, Richard ( Team)

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