Why RA Tests Matter

Your doctor will weigh the results—and what you say—to create the best treatment plan for you.

Visiting your rheumatologist on a regular basis is very important. Even if the symptoms of the disease (pain, stiffness and swelling) aren't bothering you too much at any given time, inflammation may still be damaging your joints.

Test Measures Results

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). Also called "sed rate."

Measures how quickly your red blood cells sink to the bottom of a glass tube.

The more quickly your red blood cells drop, the more inflammation is present in your body. The higher your sed rate, the more severe the RA is.

C-reactive protein (CRP)

Measures the concentration of CRP, a protein, in the blood.

Similar to ESR, this test also monitors inflammation. If your CRP rate is high, there's inflammation in your body. The higher the level of CRP, the more severe your RA is.


Measures the degree and extent of joint destruction.

X-rays are used to monitor the progression of RA. They help doctors understand the speed at which the disease is physically affecting your joints.

Vectra DA

Measures proteins involved in the processes that cause and control RA in your body.

It gives you and your doctor a more comprehensive understanding of the current state of your RA – all with a single number that can be tracked over time.

The limits of test results

Even though ESR and CRP both measure inflammation in your body, sometimes one will be raised when the other isn't. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) don't have elevated ESR or CRP rates.

And others may have raised ESR or CRP rates but not have RA. These tests are markers of inflammation—but are not RA-specific.

No matter what your blood test results say, your doctor will make treatment decisions in large part based on his physical exam findings and how you "feel"—so be sure to tell your doctor if you think your current treatment isn't giving you enough relief.

Updated November 2012

Causes & Risk Factors
Your Healthcare Team
Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Examining Your Treatment Options
PT, OT or Surgery?
Make the Team
A Doctor's Perspective: The Inside Scoop on RA
Team Up with Your Doctor to Feel Better
Why RA Tests Matter


Share |