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What is the difference between arthritis and seronegative arthritis?

Seronegative rheumatoid arthritis is the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis without the presence of certain antibodies in the patient’s blood. It is one of two main types of rheumatoid arthritis diagnoses.

In most cases of rheumatoid arthritis diagnoses, the patient tests positive for rheumatoid factor and/or anti-CPP antibodies. These indicate that the patient is seropositive and that they possess the antibodies that cause an attack on joints and lead to inflammation.

When a patient tests negative for rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP antibodies, yet they still display strong symptoms indicative of rheumatoid arthritis, they can achieve a diagnosis of seronegative rheumatoid arthritis.

The seronegative part means they don’t possess the antibodies that seropositive patients do. Otherwise, seronegative patients may also simply possess extremely low levels of the antibodies – not enough to warrant a seropositive diagnosis.

Many seronegative rheumatoid arthritis patients go on to develop antibodies years after their initial diagnosis. This sometimes causes the diagnosis to change to a seropositive rheumatoid factor or anti-CPP diagnosis.

This is one of the many reasons that a patient can still be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis even if they are seronegative.