There are some rheumatoid arthritis patients whose doctors may not believe they actually have the disease. This is because the routine blood tests do not detect a specific type of RA. This type is known as seronegative rheumatoid arthritis.

Because these patients have not been properly diagnosed, many of them live with the often severe pain of swollen and stiff joints that RA causes. If those patients are given standard RA treatments, such as steroids and methotrexate, their symptoms can be reduced.

Awareness of this form of rheumatoid arthritis is very low, even among medical processionals. In the UK, it is believed that seronegative RA accounts for 1/3 of all patients who have the disorder.

Early diagnosis is very important: Good control of RA symptoms with proper drugs can prevent joint damage in the first few months.

Experts say that one of the big differences with seronegative RA is that it does not produce the standard rheumatoid factor antibodies that the standard version does. So, the symptoms can be mistaken for minor health issues caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, or possibly just overdoing a strenuous activity.

Experts also tell us that just because you do not test positive for rheumatoid factor does not mean you do not have RA. There actually are thousands of antibodies in the blood that can attack our joints.

The most common symptoms of RA are swelling and stiffness in the joints, as well as pain. They most often begin in the smaller joints in the feet and hands.

Be sure to have your medical professional test you for other types of RA, if you think you may have this condition.