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Disability Often Precedes Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

First comes some function impairment, then the rheumatoid arthritis arrives.

Most patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) experience functional disability (FD) that may precede RA diagnosis and persist throughout the disease course, according to a study published online April 30 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Elena Myasoedova, M.D., Ph.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues compared trends in FD among 586 patients with RA and 531 individuals without RA.

The researchers found a higher prevalence of FD in those with RA versus those without at RA incidence or index date (26 versus 11 percent). This excess in FD was persistent over the follow-up period and calendar time. For most age groups, patients with RA had ≥15 percent prevalence of FD versus individuals without RA.

“These findings suggest that the burden of FD affects most patients with RA, begins early in the disease course, and may precede RA diagnosis,” the authors write.

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