Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis
Seronegative rheumatoid arthritis is the rheumatoid arthritis in which the blood doesn’t contain Rheumatoid Factor (RF or RhF). While diagnosing RA, doctors get a range of laboratory tests done and also evaluate the physical symptoms. Testing of blood for rheumatoid factor is the most common way to help determine the presence of disease. But some patients, though they show all the arthritic symptoms, are negative for rheumatoid factor. Despite a negative rheumatoid factor test result, various other tests, to detect the presence of rheumatoid arthritis, can be done, such as, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), X-rays, complete blood count (CBC), C-reactive protein (CRP) and antinuclear antibodies. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease which cannot be diagnosed easily. Therefore, performing a series of tests is usual to reach its diagnosis. This type of rheumatoid arthritis is more common in men.
Common symptoms of seronegative RA are same as those of seropositive RA and they are swollen, painful and tender joints, flu-like symptoms, stiffness in the morning, muscle pain and limitations on movements. Other symptoms are fatigue, weakness and general stiffness of the body. The disease has a tendency to flare up in the mornings after long time of rest. During this time, pain and limited movement of joints, especially in wrists, ankles and back, are often seen.
It is difficult to monitor the progress of seronegative rheumatoid arthritis. When the rheumatoid factor is present in the blood, doctors can know how far and intense the disease has developed. The severity of the disease is easy to identify which is indicated by increased number of rheumatoid factor. This becomes impossible in the seronegative RA patients because of the absence of rheumatoid factor.
A remedy for this is suggested to these patients by the doctor and it is observing and documenting the ongoing of the flares. This is very essential for these patients. It is best to keep a calendar of flares. It will help the doctor by providing necessary information about the condition that takes place between the periods of remission. Evaluating the severity and frequency of flare-ups will help the doctor to determine whether the condition is getting more serious, because s/he cannot successfully perform a rheumatoid factor test.
Just like seropositive rheumatoid arthritis, treatment of seronegative rheumatoid arthritis too focuses on relief from pain, inflammation and slowing down the destruction of joints. The most common medicine is NSAID, i.e. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesic drugs, DMARDs, i.e. disease modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologic response modifiers.
A major (and relieving) difference which medical studies have observed is that patients with seronegative RA have comparably less joint erosion and destruction than patients having seropositive RA. Also the tendency for developing rheumatoid nodules under the skin is less in this disease than the positive population. Moreover, though the other symptoms are same as in the positive group, their severity is less, which too is a bit relieving.
Therefore, if you have developed seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, do not panic! On the contrary, take yourself as a lucky person, who will have to undergo less severe side of the disease!