Researchers Determine Your Lifetime Risk for Rheumatoid Arthritis
risk for five other autoimmune rheumatic diseases for women and men -
Jan. 6, 2011 – A
popular pastime for many older people is to try and figure out their
chances of getting one ailment or another. Mayo Clinic researchers have
simplified it – they have figured out the lifetime risk of developing
rheumatoid arthritis and six other autoimmune rheumatic diseases for
both men and women.
the lifetime risk for rheumatic disease for both sexes, something that
had not been done before -- separately or collectively," says Cynthia
Crowson Mayo Clinic biostatistician and first author.
incidence rates existed, but prevalence figures underestimate individual
risk and incidence rates express only a yearly estimate."
were looking for an accurate basis to offer an easy-to-understand
average risk over a person's lifetime, knowing that risk changes at
almost every age.
They used data
from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a long-term epidemiology
resource based on patients in Olmsted County, Minn. The cohort of 1179,
consisted of patients diagnosed between 1955 and 2007, allowed the team
to extrapolate the nationwide estimates.
lifetime risk in the United States of having some kind of inflammatory
autoimmune disease is 8.4 percent for women and 5.1 percent for men.
Based on year
2000 population figures, that means one woman in 12 and one man in 20
will develop one of the conditions in their lifetime.
consider that a substantial risk and say their findings should encourage
more research on the value of early diagnosis and intervention for
people with increased genetic risk of arthritis. They hope the new
figures will help in counseling patients and in fundraising efforts to
find improved treatments.
below reflect lifetime risk for the respective diseases, based on the
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
1 in 28
1 in 59
The research was
supported by the National Institutes of Health.
authors are Eric Matteson, M.D., M.P.H.; Elena Myasoedova, M.D., Ph.D.;
Clement Michet, M.D.; Floranne Ernste, M.D.; Kenneth Warrington, M.D.;
John Davis III, M.D.; Gene Hunder, M.D.; Terry Therneau, Ph.D.; and
Sherine Gabriel, M.D.
Mayo Clinic is a
nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for
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"arthritis" makes many people think of painful, stiff joints. But, there
are many kinds of arthritis, each with different symptoms and
treatments. Most types of arthritis are chronic. That means they can go
on for a long period of time.
attack joints in almost any part of the body. Some types of arthritis
cause changes you can see and feel—swelling, warmth, and redness in your
joints. In some kinds of arthritis, the pain and swelling last only a
short time, but are very uncomfortable. Other types of arthritis might
be less painful, but still slowly cause damage to your joints.
Common Kinds of
Arthritis is one
of the most common diseases in the United States. Older people most
often have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.
(OA) is the most common type of arthritis in older people. OA starts
when tissue, called cartilage, that pads bones in a joint begins to wear
away. When the cartilage has worn away, your bones rub against each
other. OA most often happens in your hands, neck, lower back, or the
large weight-bearing joints of your body, such as knees and hips.
OA symptoms range from stiffness and mild pain that comes and goes to
pain that doesn’t stop, even when you are resting or sleeping.
causes your joints to feel stiff after you haven’t moved them for
awhile, like after riding in the car. The stiffness goes away when you
move the joint. Over time, OA can make it hard to move your joints. It
can cause a disability if your back, knees, or hips are affected.
Why do you get
OA? Growing older is what most often puts you at risk for OA,
possibly because your joints and the cartilage around them become less
able to recover from stress and damage. Also, OA in the hands may run in
families. Or, OA in the knees can be linked with being overweight.
Injuries or overuse may cause OA in joints such as knees, hips, or
arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, a type of illness that makes
your body attack itself. RA causes pain, swelling, and stiffness that
lasts for hours. RA can happen in many different joints at the same
time. People with RA often feel tired or run a fever. RA is more common
in women than men.
RA can damage
almost any joint. It often happens in the same joint on both sides of
your body. RA can also cause problems with your heart, muscles, blood
vessels, nervous system, and eyes.
Gout is one of
the most painful kinds of arthritis. It most often happens in the big
toe, but other joints can also be affected. Swelling may cause the skin
to pull tightly around the joint and make the area red or purple and
rich in purines like liver, dried beans, peas, anchovies, or gravy can
lead to a gout attack. Using alcohol, being overweight, and taking
certain medications may make gout worse. In older people, some blood
pressure medicines can also increase the chance of a gout attack. To
decide if you have gout, your doctor might do blood tests and x-rays.
You might have
some type of arthritis if you have:
Ongoing joint pain
Tenderness or pain when touching a joint
Problems using or moving a joint normally
Warmth and redness in a joint
If any one of
these symptoms lasts more than 2 weeks, see your regular doctor or one
who specializes in treating arthritis, called a rheumatologist. If you
have a fever, feel physically ill, suddenly have a swollen joint, or
have problems using your joint, see your doctor right away.
rest, doing the right exercise, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet,
and learning the right way to use and protect your joints are keys to
living with any kind of arthritis. The right shoes and a cane can help
with pain in the feet, knees, and hips when walking. There are also
gadgets to help you open jars and bottles or to turn the doorknobs in
can help with pain and swelling. Acetaminophen might ease arthritis
pain. Some people find NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs),
like ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketoprofen, helpful. Some NSAIDs are sold
without a prescription, while others must be prescribed by a doctor.
Be very careful
about possible side effects of some NSAIDs, whether sold with or without
a prescription. Read the warnings on the package or insert that comes
with the drug. Talk to your doctor about if and how you should use
acetaminophen or NSAIDs for your arthritis pain. The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration has more information about these drugs.
(OA). Medicines can help you control the pain. Rest and exercise may
make it easier to move your joints. Keeping your weight down is a good
idea. If pain from OA is very bad, there are shots your doctor can give
arthritis (RA). Treatment can help the pain and swelling. This might
slow down or stop joint damage. You may feel better and find it easier
to move around. Your doctor might also suggest anti-rheumatic drugs
called DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs). These can slow
damage from the disease. Other medicines known as corticosteroids (like
prednisone) can ease swelling. Another kind of drug, called a biologic
response modifier, blocks the damage done by the immune system. These
may help people with mild-to-moderate RA when other treatments have not
Gout. The most
common treatment for an acute attack of gout is NSAIDs or
glucocorticoids like prednisone. They can bring down the swelling, so
you may start to feel better within a few hours after treatment. The
pain usually goes away within a few days. Glucocorticoids are strong
medicines. They should only be taken with a doctor’s prescription. If
you have had an attack of gout, talk to your doctor to learn why you had
the attack and how to prevent future attacks. If you have had several
attacks, your doctor might prescribe medicines to prevent future ones.
Exercise Can Help
taking the right medicine and properly resting your joints, exercise
might help with arthritis symptoms. Daily exercise, such as walking or
swimming, helps keep joints moving, lessens pain, and makes muscles
around the joints stronger.
Three types of
exercise are best if you have arthritis:
like dancing, might relieve stiffness, keep you flexible, and help you
keep moving your joints.
such as weight training, will keep or add to muscle strength. Strong
muscles support and protect your joints.
or endurance exercises,
like bicycle riding, make your heart and arteries healthier, help
prevent weight gain, and also may lessen swelling in some joints.
Institute on Aging (NIA) has a free booklet on how to start and stick
with a safe exercise program. See the last panel of this AgePage for
Other Things To Do
exercise and weight control, there are other ways to ease the pain
around joints. You might find comfort by using a heating pad or a cold
pack, soaking in a warm bath, or swimming in a heated pool.
Your doctor may
suggest surgery when damage to your joints becomes disabling or when
other treatments do not help with pain. Surgeons can repair or replace
some joints with artificial (man-made) ones.
suggest that acupuncture may ease OA pain for some people. Research also
shows that two dietary supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin, may
help lessen moderate to severe OA pain, but they seem to have no effect
on changes to cartilage in the knee. Scientists continue to study these
kinds of alternative treatments. Always check with your doctor before
trying any new treatment for arthritis.
Many people with
arthritis try remedies that have not been tested or proven helpful. Some
of these, such as snake venom, are harmful. Others, such as copper
bracelets, are harmless, but also unproven.
How can you tell
that a remedy may be unproven?
● The remedy
claims that a treatment, like a lotion or cream, works for all types of
arthritis and other diseases.
support comes from only one research study.
● The label
has no directions for use or warning about side effects.
● The person
recommending the treatment profits directly from your purchase of the
● People who
are now completely well are presented to you as having the same problems
you have (this is called anecdotal evidence).
See below for
more information about getting NIA’s AgePage called Beware of Health
Talk To Your
arthritis do not have to be part of growing older. You can work with
your doctor to safely lessen the pain and stiffness and to prevent more
serious damage to your joints.
Here are some
Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals
1800 Century Place, Suite 250
Atlanta, GA 30345-4300
P.O. Box 7669
Atlanta, GA 30357-0669
or check the telephone directory for your local chapter www.arthritis.org
of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
NIAMS Information Clearinghouse
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
1-301-565-2966 (TTY) www.niams.nih.gov
for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
P.O. Box 7923
Gaithersburg, MD 20898
1-866-464-3615 (TTY/toll-free) www.nccam.nih.gov
To get the NIA’s
exercise guide or Beware of Health Scams or for more information on
health and aging, contact:
a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the
National Library of Medicine. This website has health information for
older adults. Special features make it simple to use. For example, you
can click on a button to have the text read out loud or to make the type
Institute on Aging
National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
feel pain and stiffness in your body or have trouble moving around, you
might have arthritis. Most kinds of arthritis cause pain and swelling in
your joints. Joints are places where two bones meet, such as your elbow
or knee. Over time, a swollen joint can become severely damaged. Some
kinds of arthritis can also cause problems in your organs, such as your
eyes or skin.
type of arthritis,
osteoarthritis, is often
related to aging or to an injury. Other types occur when your immune
system, which normally protects your body from infection, attacks your
body's own tissues.
Rheumatoid arthritis is
the most common form of this kind of arthritis.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
is a form of the disease that happens in children.
Infectious arthritis is
an infection that has spread from another part of the body to the joint.
arthritis (RA) is a form
of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function
in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and
fingers. More women than men get rheumatoid arthritis. It often starts
between ages 25 and 55. You might have the disease for only a short
time, or symptoms might come and go. The severe form can last a
Rheumatoid arthritis is different from
the common arthritis that often comes with older age. RA can affect body
parts besides joints, such as your eyes, mouth and lungs. RA is an
which means the arthritis results from your immune system attacking your
body's own tissues.
knows what causes rheumatoid arthritis. Genes, environment and hormones
might contribute. Treatments include medicine, lifestyle changes and
surgery. These can slow or stop joint damage and reduce pain and
body's immune system protects you from disease and infection. But if you
have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks healthy cells in
your body by mistake. Autoimmune diseases can affect many parts of the
body. These diseases tend to run in families. Women - particularly
African-American, Hispanic-American, and Native-American women - have a
higher risk for some autoimmune diseases.
are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, and some have similar
symptoms. This makes it hard for your health care provider to know if
you really have one of these diseases, and if so, which one. Getting
diagnosed can be frustrating and stressful. In many people, the first
symptoms are being tired, muscle aches and low fever.
diseases may also have flare-ups, when they get worse, and remissions,
when they all but disappear. The diseases do not usually go away, but
symptoms can be treated.