Keep up-to-date on the latest rheumatoid arthritis (RA) research with our brief research summaries.
Obesity May Affect RA Tests
Research has shown that obesity can increase the risk of RA or worsen symptoms. A new study of more than 2,000 people with RA suggests it could also affect the results of tests used to measure RA inflammation.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found a link between body mass index (BMI, a measure of body fat) and elevated results of two common tests – SED rate and C-reactive protein (CRP) – used in diagnosing RA and gauging its activity. Researchers say this association is related to fat mass and not RA disease activity. Doctors should consider a patient’s BMI when interpreting lab results.
Source: Arthritis Care & Research, published online April, 2017
Continue reading Rheumatoid Arthritis Research Briefs: RA Tests, Dementia, Disability
Thanks to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments, joint deformities in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are becoming less frequent and severe.
What Causes Joint Deformities in RA?
In a joint affected by RA, inflammatory cells of the immune system gather in the lining of the joint (called synovium), forming a fibrous layer of abnormal tissue (called pannus). The pannus releases substances that quicken bone erosion, cartilage destruction and damage to the surrounding ligaments. The involved joints lose their shape and alignment, resulting in deformities. Severe deformities lead to loss of joint function and the need for joint replacement surgery.
Continue reading Aggressive RA Treatment May Prevent Joint Deformities
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) don’t stop at joint pain and swelling. Most people with RA also experience mental and physical exhaustion, a symptom known as fatigue. Studies show that up to 80% of people with RA have at least some sense of feeling run down, and more than 50% have high levels of fatigue.
Terence Starz, MD, a rheumatologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says the feeling can be described as overwhelming or different from just being tired because it is extreme and seems to come from nowhere. In fact, fatigue may have a greater impact on daily life than pain.
Continue reading Fighting the Fatigue of RA
For years, fibromyalgia was a mystery illness. No one knew what caused it, how to diagnose it or how best to treat it. Some people, including doctors, even questioned its existence. In the last few years, however, researchers have cleared up some of the mystery. Although much about fibromyalgia still isn’t understood completely, two things are clear: It’s very real, and it affects a disproportionate number of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Continue reading RA With a Side of Fibromyalgia
Generally, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies, which can affect other organs and tissues besides the joints. In fact, people with RA have up to twice the risk of heart disease and development of heart failure (especially if they test positive for rheumatoid factor, or RF) than the general population, according to a 2013 Mayo Clinic study published in the American Heart Journal.
Continue reading Risk of Heart Attack Rises After RA Diagnosis
The fatigue that often accompanies rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be as distressing and disabling as the pain – and often harder to treat. RA-related fatigue has been associated with molecules called cytokines that promote inflammation, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and the use of biologics that block TNF have been shown to somewhat reduce fatigue. But a new study published online in the journal Rheumatology quantifies just how stubborn RA-related fatigue is – even when the disease itself is well controlled with an anti-TNF medication – and characterizes which patients are most likely to beat it.
Continue reading Study Shows Fatigue Persists in Some Cases Even When Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Controlled
When arthritis is active and painful, you have a constant reminder and strong incentive to take your medications. But when your disease is under control, it may be easy to forget a dose or two or you may even be tempted to stop taking your medication altogether. But doing so is not a good idea. The way you are feeling – particularly when you are on medication – is not always an indication of whether there is underlying disease activity. Stopping your medication could cause your disease to flare, resulting in the irreparable joint damage your doctor was aiming to prevent when prescribing medications in the first place.
Continue reading Get and Keep Control of Your Rheumatoid Arthritis
With the advent of early, aggressive treatment and more effective drugs, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients are facing joint surgery much less than they were 20 years ago.
When rheumatologist Erdal Diri started working at Trinity Health Center in Minot, N.D., more than a decade ago, he saw many RA patients referred to him by surgeons frustrated by the levels of joint inflammation they saw. Better inflammation-fighting drugs and a new approach to treating RA more aggressively have changed that, he says. From an average of 30 to 40 RA patients per year being sent for surgery at this rural hospital, Dr. Diri now sends only 4 or 5.
Research Backs a Decline in RA Joint Surgeries
A study conducted by rheumatologists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and published in Journal of Rheumatology in March 2012, tracked surgeries among 813 RA patients from 1980 to 2007. The researchers, led by Eric L. Matteson, MD, found that the incidence of any joint surgery within 10 years of diagnosis went from 27.3% in the 1980 to 1994 period, to 19.5% in the 1995 to 2007 period.
Continue reading Early Control of RA Inflammation Prevents Joint Surgery