Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Maurice Barry


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the classic example of a chronic inflammatory arthritis. Chronic joint inflammation, whatever the cause, can damage joints permanently within a few months (MRI can demonstrate irrevocable joint damage in RA within weeks of onset). DMARDs can prevent or reduce this damage, especially when started early. It is therefore very important to learn to recognise joint inflammation (synovitis) so that appropriate treatment can be given. The signs of joint inflammation may be subtle and the assessment of disease activity is not an all-or-nothing decision, but is based on a composite of the following variables:
  • Duration and severity of morning stiffness (>1 hour suggests activity)

  • Number of swollen joints

  • Number of tender joints

  • Lab. variables, e.g.
    • acute phase reactants — ESR↑, CRP↑, serum amyloid A↑

    • haemoglobin (↓)

    • platelet count (↑)


Rheumatoid Arthritis Connective Tissue Disease Lyme Disease Joint Inflammation Borrelia Burgdorferi 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maurice Barry
    • 1
  1. 1.James Connolly Memorial HospitalDublinIreland

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