Research shows doctors how to monitor RA

May 7, 2013

Topic: orthopaedic injury

Research shows doctors how to monitor RA

Rheumatoid arthritis can make affected individuals prone to orthopaedic injury and pain. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the causes for RA are unknown. This form of arthritis usually affects the joints but often has a toll on other areas of the body, as well. New research reveals ways that physicians can monitor the disease.

Keeping bone fractures in check
British researchers recently released a study suggesting that RA patients are at a higher risk of falling and experiencing injuries, such as bone fractures, from that fall as compared to individuals without the orthopaedic condition.

The journal Arthritis Care and Research published these findings. Lead author of the study Emma Stanmore, Ph.D., and her colleagues surveyed a group of 535 adult patients with RA. Some of these individuals had a history of falling in the preceding year while others had not fallen previously. Researchers surveyed these patients for a year, during which time there were 598 falls among participants.  

The results show that RA patients who had not fallen in the last year have a 23 percent risk of falling. Patients who did have a history of falling that year have a risk of 53 percent. These statistics indicate that a record of falls is a key factor when it comes to predicting the likelihood of future falls among RA patients. 

"We've shown that falls in people with the condition aren't just random - falls can be predicted and possibly prevented by assessing and treating a number of risk factors in adults with the condition," Stanmore said. 

To prevent these incidences, the study's authors recommend that medical professionals continually check in on whether their patients with RA have fallen recently. Falls among individuals with the condition often lead to pain, bruising and orthopaedic fractures. Therefore, the study's researchers suggest that implementing a program to prevent these mishaps would be advantageous.

"We hope our findings will be used for further research to develop a falls prevention program which could include exercises to target lower limb muscle strength and challenge balance along with a review of medication," Stanmore said.

Monitoring joint inflammation through technology
For RA patients in clinical remission, certain technologies may allow medical professionals to detect inflammation in specific joints. According to HealthDay News, researchers have found that doctors may be able to use ultrasound technology to detect residual inflammation in the joints of these individuals. The ultrasound model looks at the wrist, hand and ankle, and it may be able to inform clinicians of reemerging orthopaedic problems in patients. This technology, along with regular check-ups to monitor bone fractures, can help physicians survey the bone disease. 

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