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What is seronegative arthritis?

What is seronegative arthritis?

Seronegative arthritis (SA) is the name given to a group of conditions that affect the peripheral and spinal joints of the body. SA conditions resemble rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and are usually linked to the genetic marker HLA B27 (which is also linked to RA), except that, unlike rheumatoid arthritis, SA conditions test negative for a blood rheumatoid factor (hence the designation "seronegative").

Another difference between SA and RA is the joints that are commonly affected. While rheumatoid arthritis most commonly appears earliest in the small joints of the hands, feet, ankles, and wrists, SA will more often present in larger joints, the spinal column, and in the soft tissues and ligaments surrounding the joints.

SA is not a single condition, but many conditions, all of which share the general link to rheumatoid arthritis but no rheumatoid factor.

Some of these seronegative arthritic conditions include psoriatic arthritis, Reiter's syndrome, enteropathic arthritis, reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, undifferentiated seronegative arthritic, Whipple's disease, arthritis associated with pustular acne, post-intestinal bypass arthritis, and several forms of HIV associated arthritis.

Associated risk factors

SA is closely related to psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease. Of all the patients diagnosed with psoriasis, 6.8% will go on to develop SA. Similarly, of all the patients diagnosed with some form of inflammatory bowel disease, 5% will go on to develop SA.

SA patients are also more likely to suffer skin ailments along with their arthritic condition.

While rheumatoid arthritis attacks women more often than men, men are more likely to develop one of the conditions classified as SA.

People who have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia are at greater risk for SA than people who have not. People who have contracted at least one case of acute dysentery (a painful bowel disease) are also at greater risk. Between 1% and 2% of all people who have had a sexually transmitted disease or enteric dysentery will go on to develop one or more forms of SA.

Natural and non-natural seronegative arthritis treatments

Treatment for SA is dependent on which condition has been diagnosed.

  • Psoriatic and enteropathic arthritis are frequently treated with the drugs hydroxychloroquine, sulphasalazine, and methotrexate.

  • The RA drugs Enbrel, Humira, and Remicade may also be used.

  • Corticosteroidal drugs are not usually appropriate for seronegative rheumatoid arthritis conditions, since steroids often worse the condition of the patient's skin.

  • Joint surgery is sometimes performed on severely affected joints.

As with all types of arthritis, SA is also helped by any alternative or natural therapy that helps with range of motion and lessens anxiety and/or depression. Some alternative therapies that can be beneficial include meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and herbal treatments like ginger, gingko biloba, St. John's wort, and aloe.

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