Login - or - Learn
Contact Us     Maps & Directions     About Us
Find a Provider
Your Medical Home
Find a Facility
Plan Your Visit
Find a Provider
Giving
Mother Frances Hospital
Heart Hospital
Neuroscience Institute
Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Search Health Information    What Is Rheumatoid Factor?

What Is Rheumatoid Factor?

Rheumatoid factor is an antibody , a protein made by the immune cells to specifically recognize and help to destroy bacteria and viruses. Each person makes thousands of different antibodies, each of which can specifically recognize thousands of different foreign substances that may attack the body.

Rheumatoid factor (RF) can be detected with a blood test. Your doctor may order this blood test if there is a suspicion that you might have rheumatoid arthritis or if you are being tested for certain other autoimmune diseases . People with rheumatoid arthritis often have high levels of RF. So a finding of a high RF can support a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis in a person with other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as joint pain with joint swelling and morning stiffness. However, elevation of RF in the absence of symptoms has no bearing on the likelihood that you will develop rheumatoid arthritis.

All people make RF antibodies as part of the normal process of responding to infection. If sensitive enough measures are used, it can be shown that everyone has rheumatoid factors, and these may be elevated normally following infection, blood transfusion, or other events that stimulate the activity of the immune system . As the name implies, though, rheumatoid factor was first identified in patients with rheumatoid arthritis because these patients tend to make a great excess of these antibodies. Higher elevation of RF has been associated with a more aggressive disease progression in rheumatoid arthritis.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Current as of June 5, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

 
Trinity Clinic

Trinity Clinic is the area's preferred multispecialty medical group, with over 350 physicians and mid-level providers representing 40 specialties in 36 clinic locations serving East Texas.

Find a Trinity Clinic ProviderMedical Providers Directory  About Trinity Clinic MyChart

TMFHC app on iTunes

TMFHC app on Android Market