Diagnosis without blood test- help please :(

PTme Member Posts: 2
edited 28. Nov 2023, 14:05 in Living with arthritis


I hope this is okay to ask, I have been back & forth with my GP for over a year with many symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis- but due to a crippling fear of needles I have been unable to have the blood tests done to give a definite diagnosis.

I know the blood test won't hurt, I know the fear is silly, but I have tried many times & I cant get past it, I have even taken lots of diazepam but it doesn't help. I have been told the fear is most likely linked to a childhood trauma I went through.

My question is- if I don't have the blood test do I just have to live with the pain & symptoms, or is there anything else I can do?

My GP will not refer me to a rheumatologist without a blood test so I feel stuck- my hands are in a lot of pain & getting worse each time they flare up



  • Anna
    Anna Moderator Posts: 968
    edited 19. Jan 2021, 18:38

    Hello PTme and a warm welcome to the online community,

    You are not alone with a fear of needles - evidently one in ten people in the UK are affected. It sounds like you have been very brave in trying to overcome your fear so that you can have a blood test to help diagnose suspected rheumatoid arthritis.

    However, blood tests are not the only way that RA can be diagnosed - in fact no blood test can definitively prove or rule it out, only give an indication. Further tests such as x-rays and scans are also needed and you should certainly not be left to live with the pain and symptoms you describe. Perhaps you could talk to your doctor again and ask what next step they suggest for your diagnosis.

    Some of our members may have had similar experiences, and I'm sure they will be happy to share them with you.

    Meanwhile, you might like to have a look at the Versus Arthritis website page on the diagnosis of Rheumatoid arthritis and what sort of tests and treatments are available: https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/

    Best wishes, and do let us know how you are getting on.

    Anna : )

    Need more help? - call our Helpline on 0800 5200 520 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm

  • PTme
    PTme Member Posts: 2

    Hi Anna

    Thankyou so much for your response, okay thats really helpful! I am going to call tomorrow & try to book an appointment with a different GP in the hope of getting somewhere! This gives me hope!

    Thanks again :)

  • EnglishRose63

    Hi ptme, my bloods came back normal for rheumatoid arthritis but my gp sent me for ultrasound scans on my hands and wrists which showed lots of inflammation. Please don't give up 😘

  • Jona
    Jona Member Posts: 406

    Hi PTme,

    I had the blood tests as inflammatory markers were all high especially my RA ones Anna is right other tests can can indicate whether you have it or not I can’t understand why your gp won’t refer you without a blood test see another gp for sure I kept going back till I got accused of being a serial attender by one doctor very disrespectful and humiliating but you need to find out what’s going on my hands are so bad now with arthritis that I find it difficult to do the simple things so dig your heels in and insist be strong btw I’m a phlebotomist and have taken bloods many many times and experienced ones are fast try to concentrate on something on the wall maybe ear phones with music there’s also a numbing cream we used so you didn’t feel anything

    stay strong and good luck 😊


  • SamBan92
    SamBan92 Member Posts: 10

    Hi @PTme

    i see you’ve had several responses already, and I don’t know too much, having only been diagnosed 2 weeks ago, but I believe there are ways to get a diagnosis without your blood tests.

    personally I was chasing diagnosis for the last 9 months, having repeat blood tests and X-rays and all of my results were coming back normal. I have not yet seen anyone in person due to COVID however after trialling 3 medications and consultation calls with 2 separate rheumatologists, I have been diagnosed with “seronegative RA” - I have all the symptoms but none of my blood works etc support this. Negative rheumatoid factor, negative ccp & low inflammatory markers.. yet I suffer in both hands/wrists, elbows, knees and ankles.

    if I can help in anyway (I’m not sure how but I will definitely try!) please do send me a message x