Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that causes the body to attack healthy tissues in joints. This triggers inflammation, which causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Blood tests can help confirm a diagnosis of RA. People with the disease often have elevated levels of certain proteins, including C-reactive protein (CRP), in their blood.
In this article, we look at the link between RA and CRP. We describe what CRP levels show and how to reduce them.
What is CRP?
The liver makes CRP, a type of protein.
When the immune system signals inflammation, the body sends CRP through the bloodstream to the affected area.
High levels of CRP in the blood indicate chronic inflammation. This occurs with a wide range of health problems, such as:
- autoimmune conditions, including RA
- heart disease
Prescription medications can reduce inflammation.
The other goals of RA treatment are to relieve pain, manage symptoms, and reduce or eliminate the risk of permanent joint damage.
To reduce inflammation, a person may take:
- over-the-counter or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which suppress the immune system
- biologics, which can slow down or prevent the progression of RA
People can use DMARDs along with NSAIDs.
A doctor can also inject steroid-based medication directly into a joint to decrease inflammation.
RA causes inflammation. In response, the body releases CRP into the bloodstream.
Measuring the levels of CRP in the blood can help with diagnosing RA.
While many factors influence a person’s CRP levels, and there is no definitive normal range, CRP levels above 10 mg/l suggest substantial inflammation.
Taking RA medications can help reduce levels of inflammation and CRP in the blood.
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