Q: What is “rheumatoid factor”? I think mine is high. My symptoms: fingers swell, left wrist hurts, eyes itch sometimes, and my lower back hurts.
A: Rheumatoid factor is an antibody which can bind to other antibodies. Antibodies are normal proteins found in the blood which function within the immune system. Rheumatoid factor, though, is not normally found in the general population.
The normal range for rheumatoid factor should be in between 40-60 IU/ml. However, slight variation in this range may occur from lab to lab. Also, a higher level of rheumatoid factor in your blood is closely associated with autoimmune disease, particularly rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
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You should also get an erythrocyte sedimentation rate test (a blood test that, in most patients with RA, confirms the amount of inflammation in the joints).
Yes, your symptoms are indicative of rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints. Its cause is unknown. It is suspected that certain infections or factors in the environment might trigger the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues.
Two classes of medications are used in treating rheumatoid arthritis: fast-acting “first-line drugs” and slow-acting “second-line drugs” (also referred to as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or DMARDs). These DMARDs can slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage.
Please consult a rheumatologist for clinical checkup and get appropriate management.
— Answer from Dr. Josh, a physician on JustAnswer.
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