Referred to rheumatologist and awaiting appointment

Hello and thank you for the opportunity to post here. I am feeling anxious about what may be wrong with me and wanted to get it out somewhere and see if anyone has any advice or thoughts please.

I have just been referred to rheumatology by my GP after blood tests showed a rheumatoid factor of 20.3 (their acceptable range is 1-13.9 but I know some consider up to 20 to be normal). I visited the doctor as I have suffered from back pain for years and feel more and more than many parts of me ache, both joints in spine and neck but a lot of muscle pain and stiffness. I am 35, a healthy weight and have a good diet. I play netball, horse ride and am fairly active in the garden but I have a constant level of discomfort these days, whether doing something or being still. I see a chiropractor once a month and she says I have arthritis in the lower back for sure and always comments on my stiffness.

Last year I also visited GP as lymph nodes swell in my armpits from time to time (every few months), can be different sides and no explanation. GP had no cause for that but blood tests then showed an iron deficiency with a ferritin of 5.5, extremely low. I was giving blood in those days, now ended, and do not eat meat. I was very tired but got my ferritin up with a few months of iron tablets and I now take iron regularly.

I also have a chronic cough which has been diagnosed (over the phone) as asthma. I am also often cold.

My pain is more of a widespread ache than one specific area but there are certain parts which ache regularly. Occasionally my hands feel slightly stiff in the morning but this wears off very quickly and joints of hands are fine.

I am assuming that having these pains and an elevated RF almost certainly means I have something wrong somewhere along the line… whether or not that is RA is yet to be seen and I now need to wait patiently. I would be grateful to hear from anyone in a similar situation or who has any advice for me.

Thank you again and I wish you all a pain-free and happy afternoon.


  • Sharon_K
    Sharon_K Member Posts: 460

    Hi @hea87

    welcome to the online community. So right now you are waiting for a diagnosis having had a blod test of with a rheumatoid factor of 20.3. This is always a difficult time and you are bound to be feeling concerned. When is your appointment. I would recommend that you are gentle with yourself, you are bound to think the worst but remind yourself that, right now you don't know that for sure. If you feel able to read up now, that could be useful as you can make a list of questions to take with you to your appointment. On our website it states

    Rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP antibodies

    About half of all people with rheumatoid arthritis have rheumatoid factor in their blood when the condition starts. However, around 1 in every 20 people without rheumatoid arthritis also test positive for rheumatoid factor.

    There is another antibody test called anti-CCP that you can take. People who test positive for anti-CCP are very likely to get rheumatoid arthritis. However, not everyone that has the condition has this antibody.

    You can read more here

    Lots of our members here will be able to support you. Just take one day at a time for now

    Best Wishes


  • hea87
    hea87 Member Posts: 3

    Hi Sharon! 👋🏻

    Thank you very much for your reply. I don’t yet have a date for my rheumatology appointment but I think it’ll be a wait of a few months.

    The GP had ordered the CCP test as well but my sample was ‘lost/unusable’ unfortunately. I think now it’s just a wait until I see the rheumatologist.

    That’s great advice about taking a list of questions, thank you. I was thinking about writing down all the symptoms I have which may be relevant to help give them the fullest picture possible with which to diagnose me.

    I appreciate your reply, thank you.