What is benign rheumatoid arthritis

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Rheumatoid arthritis is not a benign disease.

It not only can cause crippling, disability, and loss of functioning, it also causes a significant shortening of life span. A study done at Vanderbilt University showed that untreated or inadequately treated rheumatoid arthritis had the same mortality rate as untreated diabetes, heart disease, and Hodgkins disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease that may affect internal organs including the lungs, eye, skin, and heart.

Rheumatoid vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) with its attendant involvement of multiple organ systems carries with it a staggering morbidity and mortality rate.

Rheumatoid arthritis does run a spectrum though as far as severity. For instance, seronegative (rheumatoid factor is negative) rheumatoid arthritis appears to have a better mortality rate than seropositive disease. Elderly onset RA seems to be a bit less aggressive than RA occurring in younger people.

Rheumatoid arthritis that responds to mild disease modifying drugs such as minocycline and hydroxychloroquine also appears to have a better prognosis than disease requiring more aggressive therapy.

Given the fact that rheumatoid arthritis damage is not reversible and that the chance for remission is best when the disease is diagnosed and treated early and aggressively, then the recommendations are that RA be managed by a rheumatologist as quickly as possible.

The need to balance the effects of the disease versus the potential for drug toxicity related to treatment must be addressed.

The only "benign" thing about rheumatoid arthritis nowadays is we can get it into remission more times than not... and that's good news!

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