Yearly Lab Test Recommendations
Lab tests are a great way to get an overall picture of your health. Getting certain tests done on a yearly basis is a good idea because it can help you monitor your health, provide baseline values for your doctor when you are feeling well, and detect any underlying illnesses that may not yet be causing any symptoms!
I will give you a short list of tests that I think that you should be getting on a yearly basis.
The tests I will recommend are very important for the types of patients I see (like you!). They can help detect illnesses which sometimes manifest themselves as joint and muscle pain, and nerve problems.
They are particularly important in cases which do not seem to respond well to treatment in the office.
Here they are:
1. Complete Blood Count (CBC) – This test screens your blood for any irregularities of shape, size, and number of the various cells that are in your blood. Irregularities in the findings of this test can tell you if suffer from anemia, infection, and even certain types of cancer!
2. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel – A group of tests make up this screen which can tell you about the balance of all the chemicals in your body and your metabolism. These tests give you an idea of how most of your organs are functioning. Abnormal findings from these tests often indicate a need for more specific tests, but are a great place to start to identify dysfunction of your organs which can sometimes cause referred pain when they aren’t working well.
3. Hemoglobin A1C – HbA1C tests how good of a job your body does at regulating sugar levels. The comprehensive metabolic panel described above does include a blood sugar test, but it is more of a snapshot in time. This test lets you know how your body is doing over a longer period of time and is a better test for people who have diabetes or diabetes like symptoms.
4. Thyroid Panel – Your thyroid controls a lot of the systems in your body by secreting thyroid hormones. If you have too little or too much of these hormones you can start to experience symptoms that people who come to see me commonly complain of. Things like chronic fatigue, muscle pain and weakness, tremors, and numbness or tingling in the hands can be an indication of thyroid dysfunction. Getting a panel of thyroid tests that includes more than just thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is a good idea because TSH alone does not typically do a very good job of detecting thyroid problems until they are a bit more advanced.
5. C-Reactive Protein – Inflammation in our bodies can be a sign of auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and others which can be the underlying cause of muscle and joint pain in some cases. This test is a great screen for systemic inflammation. Should it come back abnormal, more specific follow up tests are usually required to find out what is causing the inflammation.
6. Urinalysis – A quick dip of a stick in a little bit of your urine can tell you a lot about how your urinary tract, kidneys, and liver are functioning. Problems with these organs can sometimes manifest as back, flank, abdominal, or goin pain.
7. Vitamin D and B-12 – These two vitamins are important for a lot of functions in our bodies and are deficient more often than you would imagine. Even with living in the (typically) sun-soaked rockies, people can be vitamin D deficient. I myself have been diagnosed with B12 deficiency even though I eat plenty of the foods that typically provide the vitamin. Symptoms of being deficient in these vitamins include bone pain, muscle weakness and pain, tingling in the hands and feet, and easy bruising or bleeding.
There are many other lab tests out there, but I feel that these are a great for routine testing from year to year.
I would recommend asking your primary care doctor to order some of these tests for you the next time you see them.
If you do not have a primary care doctor, then I would recommend Dr. Carolynn Francavilla Brown at Miramont Family Medicine. The contact number for their office is 303-629-9022
You can also order them online yourself from Private MD Labs, which partners with local labs to collect samples for testing and provide you with the results of your tests fairly quickly and at reasonable prices.
Let me know if you have any questions about these or other tests at your next appointment!