Polymyalgia and ESR or Sed Rate
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate is a test commonly used for polymyalgia and inflammation and is also known as the Sed rate; Sedimentation rate test.
How is it used?
ESR is an inexpensive, easy, general test that has been used for a long time to help detect conditions associated with acute and chronic inflammation such as: infections, cancers, and autoimmune diseases. ESR is non specific because it does not indicate where the inflammation is in the body or the cause. Also ESR levels can be influenced by other conditions besides inflammation. Because of these factors the ESR test is typically used in conjunction with other testing.
ESR is specific in diagnosing two specific inflammatory diseases, which are temporal arteritis and polymyagia rheumatica. An elevated ESR is one of the main test outcomes used to support a diagnosis. In both the above conditions it is used to monitor disease activity and response to treatment.
When is it ordered?
When a condition or disease is suspected of resulting in inflammation somewhere in the body an ESR may be ordered. A many number of inflammatory conditions can be detected with this test. For example it may be used with arthritis that is causing inflammation or with digestive issues are suspected to be from inflammatory bowel disease.
If a patient has symptoms such as headaches, shoulder or neck pain, hip pain, anemia and joint stiffness and the doctor suspects polymyagia rheumatica or temporal artertitis an ESR test may be ordered.
The ESR test may be used as a general screening procedure before more tests are ordered. It can also be used to monitor symptoms of a previously diagnosed inflammatory condition, because of its relationship to the disease process.
What does the test result mean?
ESR is a nonspecific marker of inflammation that can be influenced by other factors, therefore the results are always used in conjunction with other laboratory tests, the presenting clinical findings and the patient’s history. Together if the ESR and clinical findings are a match, it will help confirm or rule out a suspected diagnosis. An elevated ESR on its own, without other clinical findings, will usually not provide enough information for the doctor to make an informed diagnosis. It must also be remembered a normal result does not rule out inflammation or disease.
Moderately elevated ESR can occur with inflammation, infection, anemia, pregnancy and old age.There is usually an obvious cause for a very high ESR, such as severe infection. Depending on the patient’s symptoms the doctor will use other follow-up tests like blood cultures. An increase in ESR can mean an increase in inflammation or a bad response to therapy, decreasing ESR can mean a good reponse.