New research suggests joint swelling recurs in the same joints over time in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis

According to a study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, joint swelling tends to recur in the same joints over time among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), despite systemic treatment aimed at the suppression of overall disease activity.

The analysis included 508 patients with RA, who were followed for a median of 10 years. Every 3 months, 68 joints were assessed for the presence of swelling. Baseline local joint swelling was evaluated to determine if this was predictive for swelling in the same joint during follow up or a random occurrence among all assessed joints.

The results show that in 46% of the joints that were swollen at baseline, inflammation recurred at least once during follow up. Furthermore, baseline joint swelling was not only predictive for joint swelling during follow up in general, but also for recurrent joint swelling.

The association between baseline and later local joint swelling was more significant within the same joint than between different joints, which suggests that local factors play a role in the occurrence of joint inflammation during the RA disease course.

Clinicians may have to do more intensive monitoring over time and more intensive treatment of local joint inflammation in their patients with RA.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.