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Contempo Updates
December 12, 2001

Progress in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Author Affiliations

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.

JAMA. 2001;286(22):2787-2790. doi:10.1001/jama.286.22.2787

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 damage.2,3

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