Author Affiliations: Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Clinical Immunology, Duke University Medical Center (Drs Pisetsky and St.Clair) and the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Dr Pisetsky), Durham, NC.
Contempo Updates Section Editors: Janet M.
Torpy, MD, and Alice T. D. Hughes, MD, Fishbein Fellows.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory arthritis involving
0.5% to 1% of the US population.1 This disease
affects women twice as often as men and its incidence rises with increasing
age. In general, RA causes a symmetric polyarthritis affecting large and small
joints in association with systemic manifestations, such as morning stiffness,
fatigue, and weight loss. Although considered a joint disease, RA can have
widespread effects on the entire body and can impair life expectancy by as
much as 5 to 10 years. With progressive disease, patients with RA develop
work disability, functional impairment, and radiographic evidence of joint
Pisetsky DS, St.Clair EW. Progress in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. JAMA. 2001;286(22):2787-2790. doi:10.1001/jama.286.22.2787