Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common kind of arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints and bones. More than 1.3 million adults in the United States are affected by RA, approximately 75 percent of which are women. The condition can cause inflammation and joint pain in many different parts of the body. Less commonly, RA can also cause inflammation of the organs.
Types of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Although there are two main types of rheumatoid arthritis (seropositive and seronegative) there are a few other forms as well. Determining the type of arthritis a patient has will also define the treatment options available to them. The different types of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Seropositive: RA patients with this classification have the presence of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCPs) in their bloodstream. These are the antibodies that attack the joints in the body, causing inflammation and other symptoms associated with RA. Anti-CCPs can be detected between five and ten years prior to the appearance of any RA symptoms. The majority of RA patients have the seropositive type.
- Seronegative: This type of RA is defined by the lack of anti-CCPs or rheumatoid factor in the blood.
- Rheumatoid factor: The rheumatoid factor, in relation to RA, is another antibody that can be used by doctors and medical staff to identify the potential for rheumatoid arthritis in a patient. Rheumatoid factor can appear in patients with other medical conditions, however, so it cannot be the sole factor in the diagnosis of RA.
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis: This type of RA affects patients 17 years of age or younger. This is the most common form of arthritis in this age category. Juvenile RA differs from adult RA, as children can suffer from growth abnormalities as a result.
Other conditions also associated with RA include:
- Ankylosing spondylitis disease
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Felty’s syndrome
- Lyme disease
Similarities and Differences between Seropositive and Seronegative Rheumatoid Arthritis
The obvious similarities between seropositive and seronegative forms of rheumatoid arthritis are the symptoms experienced by the patients with them. Both forms of RA present with similar symptoms, including:
- Joint pain
- Joint stiffness
- Body stiffness in the morning, lasting 30 minutes or more
- Inflammation of the body in other areas besides the joints, including the organs
The main difference between the two most common forms of RA is the severity of the symptoms experienced. Seropositive patients will more often (but not always) experience more and more severe pain than seronegative patients.
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