Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis

Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis: What Is It And How To Manage It

September 18, 2020

RA or Rheumatoid Arthritis is a condition that is autoimmune and a form of arthritis that is inflammatory. It can lead to stiffness in the joints, swelling, and pain. There are various forms of Rheumatoid Arthritis such as Seropositive RA and Seronegative RA. The majority of individuals who are suffering from RA have the seropositive variant. This is an indication that they contain a substance known as the rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies in their blood. A healthcare professional can verify if an individual has seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis by checking if their blood contains this substance.


Once the person has Rheumatoid Arthritis with the said antibodies being absent, this condition is referred to as RA that is seronegative. For people with the seronegative variant, other antibodies may be present or antibodies may be completely non-existent. These patients, though, can gain the said antibodies later on. Once this happens, the healthcare professional can shift their findings to that of the seropositive RA. The seronegative variant of RA is not as prevalent as the seropositive variant.

This article will look at some of the important details of Seronegative RA and best to manage it. Read on to find out more!


What are the Symptoms of Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis?

The signs of RA that are Seronegative are similar to that of the Seropositive one. These are fatigue, several symptoms that have the joints affected on both sides of the body, morning body stiffness that can last for more than half an hour, joint stiffness particularly in the elbows, hips, ankles, knees, and hands, and joint redness, swelling, and tenderness. During the early stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), the aforementioned symptoms mostly affect the feet and the hand. Over time, though, the symptoms can change and adversely affect the other joints as well.

Experts theorize that the outlook of RA that is seronegative is better compared to the seropositive variant. This means that the seronegative variant is an RA that is milder. However, for some individuals, the disease can progress similarly, and eventually, the diagnosis can shift to that of the seropositive over time. People with RA that are seronegative can also get a different diagnosis later on in life such as psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis.

There is evidence to suggest that people suffering from RA classified as seronegative had an increased risk or remission that is partial compared to people with RA that is seropositive.


Possible Causes of Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis

A condition that is autoimmune occurs when the body’s immune response attacks the body’s healthy tissues by mistake. For Rheumatoid Arthritis, the immune system starts attacking the joints’ synovial fluids. This can lead to cartilage damage and eventually inflammation and pain in the joints. Over time, the bone can start to wear away due to extensive cartilage damage.

Healthcare experts are still uncertain as to why this occurs but it is believed that it may be caused by the rheumatoid factor, a type of antibody that can have a vital role in terms of the joints getting inflamed. While this can be a contributory variable, not everyone with this antibody will get RA. It has also been observed that certain events can trigger this health condition and these events are commonly centered around the mouth (e.g. periodontal disease).


Possible Risk Factors

There are some individuals who are at an increased risk for Seronegative RA. However, the risks for developing both kinds of RA (seronegative and seropositive) are the same and these are:

  • Age- Rheumatoid arthritis usually develops in people aged forty to sixty years old.
  • Sex- More than half of individuals suffering from RA (70%) are females
  • Environmental- Being exposed to certain minerals, chemicals, and air pollution.
  • Lifestyle- Cigarette smoking or second-hand smoke exposure
  • Infections- Previous virus and bacterial infection
  • Genetic- Family history and other factors that are based on genes


While the general risks for this medical condition are similar for all forms of rheumatoid arthritis, a recent study conducted in 2018 pointed out that smoking and being obese are some of the major risk factors for RA that is seronegative and people are likely to get different kinds of the said medical condition based on certain features that are genetic in nature. Furthermore, data seems to point towards the correlation between developing RA and being hypertensive.


Diagnosis and Tests

To diagnose and test the individual for possible seronegative RA, the healthcare professional will inquire about the individual’s symptoms and may also recommend further testing. If the aforementioned symptoms point towards RA’s presence, then the doctor may call in his or her diagnosis of RA even if the blood tests show the absence of the rheumatoid factor.

There are some instances when the doctor can further request for X-Rays to detect or check the bones and cartilage for any damage or erosion.


Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment and Management

Seronegative Rheumatoid arthritis will commonly be focused on treatments that can relieve its symptoms, prevent damage to the joints, and slow down the condition’s progress. Reducing inflammation and the activity of the disease can also reduce the individual’s risk of suffering from diseases of the cardiovascular system.

To help in providing relief from symptoms of this medical condition, steroids or NSAIDs may be prescribed by the doctor. This can address swelling and pain without directly affecting the conditions overall course. The steroid can also help in the management of flare-ups and inflammation but should not be used long term due to possible side effects. The progress of the condition may also be slowed through targeted therapy and the use of DMARDs or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

RA can also be better managed through some conscious lifestyle choices such as choosing to eat healthily. These healthful diets should focus more on whole grains, dairy that is low fat or other dairy substitutes, lean meat, seeds, nuts, and fresh veggies and fruits. In general, processed foods should be avoided.

Natural remedies may also be sought such as acupuncture, supplements, rest, heat and cold, relaxation and mindfulness, and gentle exercise and stretching.