Seronegative Arthritis

Just What Is Seronegative Arthritis?


We don’t often hear the term seronegative arthritis. When people are diagnosed as having arthritis it is most often osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. It’s rare you will meet a person who complains of having arthritis that will tell you they are suffering from seronegative arthritis. In fact, if you visit the websites of one or two of the more well known arthritis centers or foundations, you may not even find seronegative arthritis mentioned, the reason being that the term encompasses several different kinds of arthritis, and is not in itself a unique type of arthritis.


There are in fact well over 100 different kinds of arthritis, although many of them are rarely encountered. Arthritis can attack most any tissue in the body, but in the vast majority of cases it is the cartilage in the joints that tend to be affected.


Spondylitis - Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect women more than men, while men are more apt to fall victim to one of the four major types of seronegative arthritis. One of these types, ankylosing spondylitis, or spondylitis for short, primarily affects the spine. Women sometimes can suffer from spondylitis, but most cases involve males. Like many other types of arthritis, the pain encountered is usually not a constant, but comes and goes. One may have a sudden flare-up, usually experienced as a low back pain, which may linger for some time and then go away. Over time however the flare-ups may occur more and more frequently, and may become more and more severe. The pain, which is often accompanied by stiffness, most often occurs when one is at rest, and it tends to decrease with increasing activity. This type of arthritis normally begins in the lower spine, where the spine joins the pelvis, and over time may eventually affect the entire spine, although this is not often the case. Spondylitis is usually treatable by non-surgical means, although surgery may be resorted to if the symptoms become constant and severe.


Psoriatic Arthritis - A second seronegative type of arthritis is psoriatic arthritis which, when it occurs, occurs in conjunction with the skin disorder psoriasis, although only about 5% of those with psoriasis will experience psoriatic arthritis as well. In most instances, the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are   rather mild, affecting only the extremities, such as the very ends of the fingers or toes. There have been more severe cases of psoriatic arthritis recorded that affect the spine, but such cases are rather rare. As is the case with spondylitis, treatment of psoriatic arthritis usually consists of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.


Reactive Arthritis - A third seronegative type of arthritis, and one which primarily affects younger men, is reactive arthritis. Reactive arthritis can have numerous symptoms as it can affect the joints, the urethra, and even the eyes. In some cases the Achilles tendon can become inflamed. At times, reactive arthritis may affect only a single joint or several joints may be affected, but only on one side of the body. While the exact cause of most types of arthritis remains unknown, in the case of reactive arthritis, the disorder often follows in the wake of an infection of some sort. In many cases, reactive arthritis is a short-lived condition, one that goes away after a few weeks, especially if the infection which appeared to be a cause has been effectively treated. On some cases however, reactive arthritis can linger on, or become chronic. Treatment generally consists of antibiotics taken together with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, combined with physical therapy.


Arthritis Associated With IBD – The fourth seronegative type of arthritis is associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). While this type of arthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis in a number of ways, it usually only affects a few of the larger joints, and usually affects different joints on different sides of the body. For example, this arthritic condition may make itself known in someone’s right knee and left wrist. It can also affect the sacroiliac joints. Rheumatoid arthritis seldom, if ever, affects the lower spine. Also, this type of arthritis, while associated with IBD, is also associated with a specific gene, which is not the case with rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis tends to be long lasting in most cases. Since there is no cure, the treatment given can only address relieving the symptoms. The degree of discomfort felt will often wax and wane. Occasionally, the arthritis completely disappears on its own


Undifferentiated Arthritis – It should be noted that there are several other types of seronegative arthritis that fall under the category “undifferentiated arthritis”. These are types which are definitely seronegative in nature, but any one specific type is difficult to distinguish from any other. In general, not a great deal of information has been gathered on these different types, so they have not been assigned specific names. About all that can be said is that if you have an undifferentiated type of arthritis, it will probably cause you some discomfort, it may seem to you like any other type of arthritis, and the doctors most likely know very little about it.