Types of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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  • Overview


    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints. Because many symptoms of RA are similar to those of a variety of other diseases, diagnosis can be difficult. A correct diagnosis requires clinical evaluation, X-rays, and a series of laboratory tests.

    Understanding the type of RA you have will help you and your doctor decide on a course of treatment. Click through the slides to learn about the different types of RA.

  • Rheumatoid Factor Positive (Seropositive) RA

    Rheumatoid Factor Positive (Seropositive) RA

    If your blood tests positive for the protein called rheumatoid factor (RF), it means your body may be actively producing an immune reaction to your normal tissues. According to the Physicians Desk Reference, your chance of developing RA is four times greater if you have first-degree relatives who test positive for RF.

    According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, approximately 80 percent of people who have RA are RH-positive. Having the protein doesn't necessarily mean you have RA. However, if you do, it can help doctors identify the type. 

  • Rheumatoid Factor Negative (Seronegative) RA

    Rheumatoid Factor Negative (Seronegative) RA

    People who test negative for RF in the blood can still have RA. Diagnosis isn’t based on just this test. Your doctor will also take into account clinical symptoms, X-rays, and other laboratory tests. Although your doctor can't say for certain, people who test RF negative tend to have a milder form of RA than those who test positive.

  • Juvenile RA (Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis)

    Juvenile RA (Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis)

    The Mayo Clinic reports that juvenile RA is the most common type of arthritis in children under age 16. Symptoms may be temporary or last for a lifetime. Like adult RA, symptoms of juvenile RA include joint inflammation, stiffness, and pain. If the disease is severe, it can cause eye inflammation and interfere with a child's growth and development.

  • Overlapping and Often Confused Conditions

    Overlapping and Often Confused Conditions

    Autoimmune diseases share many common symptoms, making them particularly difficult to diagnose. People who have one autoimmune disorder often develop another. Some overlapping and often confused conditions include:

    • lupus
    • fibromyalgia
    • Lyme disease
    • chronic fatigue syndrome
    • neuropathy
    • sciatica
    • anemia
    • hypothyroidism
    • depression

    RA can also be confused with osteoarthritis, which is not an autoimmune disease, but is caused by wear and tear of joints.