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Detecting Rheumatoid Arthritis


When your immune system attacks your joints, the daily pain, stiffness and swelling can go undiagnosed for months causing permanent damage. Quickly and accurately diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis can prevent damage and improve long-term quality of life.

How is the test performed?

Blood sample

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system – which normally functions to protect you against infections – mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints.

RA causes redness, pain, swelling or a hot (or warm) feeling in the lining of a joint and can also affect other internal organs such as the eyes, lungs or heart. Each year, about 1 percent of Canadians are affective by RA. If left untreated RA can create debilitating and permanent joint damage.

While the causes of RA are not completely clear, we know that its presence can be detected by a specific protein in your blood known as 14-3-3η. While this protein is present in everybody, it’s usually undetectable and inside cells. In patients with RA, this protein in pushed outside the cells and can be measured in your blood stream.

JOINTstat is a simple blood test used to detect the presence of the RA protein in your blood stream. A positive JOINTstat test complements a clinical assessment for the diagnosis of RA. It is also helpful in measuring the progression of RA. Studies have shown that higher RA protein levels correspond with a more aggressive state of the disease.

Additional information can be found in our JOINTstat test brochure here.

Anyone can get RA but the risk increases with age and most commonly develops between 40 and 60 years of age. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, you should talk to your doctor about being tested for RA.

Symptoms may included:
  • Pain or stiffness of multiple joints
  • Swelling or stiffness of joints, especially in the morning, that lasts an hour or more
  • Warmth or redness over joints
  • Reduced ability to move the joints (such as difficulty making a fist, twisting objects, opening objects, climbing stairs)
  • Fever, fatigue, weight loss or decreased appetite
  • Lumpy growths that form under your skin especially on the elbows, hands or feet

You should also consider the JOINTstat test if you have a family history of RA. Women are also 2 to 3 times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men.

Your healthcare provider may order an RA test if you are experiencing typical symptoms of RA and you:

  • have a family history of RA
  • are experiencing hormonal changes
  • have recently had an infection
  • have already been diagnosed with RA, and your doctor wants to monitor the RA protein levels to see if you are responding to therapy. Decreased levels of the RA protein are associated with better clinical outcomes

Your RA protein levels may fluctuate with time and you may have to be tested more than once.

Testing is completed by LifeLabs at a Patient Service Centre or via our mobile lab service (available in select cities) through a simple blood sample. You will require a completed test requisition from your healthcare provider.

Test results will be provided directly to your healthcare provider for discussion with you. The report will indicate:

  •  Whether the RA protein is present
  •  The amount of RA protein present

If your test results show the presence of the RA protein, your healthcare provider may suggest a referral to a rheumatologist for discussion and developing a care plan.

A negative test result does not mean you will always be negative. If symptoms persist, you may want to consider testing in another six months.

​JOINTstat is a simple blood test used for the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis(RA). The test measures the levels of 14-3-3 (eta) protein in the blood to assist with the diagnosis of RA. The 14-3-3 protein is not normally present in the blood of healthy individuals. In the healthy state, 14-3-3 is present only inside of cells where it is involved in important biological processes. In patients with RA, 14-3-3 is pushed outside the cells where it causes harmful effects and where it is measurable in blood. In particular, 14-3-3 stimulates the production of factors that cause inflammation and joint damage.

When the JOINTstat test is used together with other standard laboratory tests like rheumatoid factor (RF) and anticyclic citrullinated protein (Anti-CCP) it complements your clinical assessment of a patient.

Additional information can be found in our JOINTstat test brochure here.

Samples for JOINTstat testing may be taken at any of our Patient Service Centres. Patients must present with the specific JOINTstat requisition found below. This form must be completed by a physician or healthcare provider.

Learn more

JOINTstat is currently an uninsured test. The cost is: $75

Payment may be made by the patient when the blood sample is taken at one of our Patient Service Centres. For convenience, Visa, Mastercard and Debit Cards are excepted.

Patient are encouraged to check with their private health care provider to see if coverage is provided.

Results will be available to you within two weeks.

We have a wealth of medical experts available to support you in interpreting test results.
Consults with our experts are available upon request. Request medical consultation.

Request more information

A JOINTstat test may be scheduled directly by the patient at any of our Patient Service Centres offering this service. They must have a requisition form completed by a physician or healthcare provider.

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