Seronegative Arthritis Treatment

There is nothing comforting about joint pain.  Arthritic attacks can become so severe that they are debilitating.  But there is a group of arthritic conditions that when left untreated may progress to more serious conditions that makes joint pain feel like needles.   This is a group of musculoskeletal condition that causes arthritis of the spine and peripheral joints, without the autoantibodies (antibodies that attack its own self) found in rheumatoid arthritis; hence the term “seronegative.”

In medical circles, other names are proposed for this group of arthritic conditions.  One memorable name is BASE syndrome for B27, arthritis, spondylitis, and enthesopathy.  Another one is the self-evident RA (rheumatoid arthristis) negative arthritis.

In its early stages, seronegative arthritis mimics the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in that there are aches and pains in joints found in hands and feet.  Misdiagnosis is quite common, and some patients are only correctly diagnosed in late stages.  Unlike RA however, the joints under attack are large asymmetrical joints, like the bones that meet at the bottom of the spine (sacrum) and the top of the buttocks (ilium).

Episodic attacks of sacroiliac joint inflammation start at teenage years or early twenties in ankylosing spondylitis.  The pain is worse in the morning, although relieved by exercise.  If left undiagnosed, the vertebrae may eventually fuse.  The inflammation is somewhat systemic, affecting other organs like lungs, heart, kidneys and eyes. 

Another arthritic condition arises from skin disorder, although correlation is unclear.  If you’ve had psoriasis and later in life develop joint pain and arthritis, you may have psoriatic arthritis.  The medical community thinks this is an autoimmune issue, where the body attacks its own cells in response to perceived infection.  Whether the infection is real or present in the environment cannot be established.  What has been established is that this condition is hereditary.

Reactive arthritis is quite harder to pin down because of its evolving nature.  The most recent explanation is that this arthritis develops after the individual contracts gastrointestinal infection.  The gastrointestinal tract may become inflamed, and the inflammation spreads to joints, skin, mucous membranes, eyes, muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones, the spine, the ribcage and the skull.  RA is more prevalent in males and among HLA B27 positive.

More common complaints include conjunctivitis (itching and discharge from the eyes), painful discharge from the male reproductive organ, and rashes on the feet.  Pain and stiffness affecting the knee and heel joints are also common.

Specialists have not yet established effective prevention strategies, and treatment with drugs pose unpleasant side effects.

In ankylosing spondylitis, the most effective treatment is physical therapy.  Chest and back exercises may stave off deformity caused by fusing vertebrae.  For general complaints of aches and pains, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDS) are standard prescription.  Reactive arthritis can be cut short by addressing the microorganism causing the inflammation.  In psoriatic and enteropathic arthritis, hydroxychloroquine, sulphasalazine, and methotrexate are usually prescribed.  Side effects include nausea, skin rashes, ulcerated mouth, abnormal levels in blood count, and poor liver function.  Irritable bowels, pulmonary and kidney problems may also arise.

Other forms of treatment come in injections, chemotherapy, and in rare cases, surgery.  But despite aggressive and ongoing treatment programs, some patients continue to suffer.  Seronegative arthritis is one medical condition that leaves a lot to be desired.  As previously mentioned, specialists in this field have not yet discovered effective prevention methods, because information about the disease is “skeletal.”  The medical literature pertaining to this kind of arthritis needs to be fleshed out in great detail because there are huge gray areas that are still foggy even among specialists.  Clearly, extensive research is necessary before definitive treatment programs can be laid out.