Difficulties with daily activities such as dressing, walking, and eating can be seen in rheumatoid arthritis patients a year or two before they’re diagnosed, a new study shows.
“This is a new finding, and a finding that is quite intriguing,” said lead author Dr. Elena Myasoedova, a rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “It may reflect an accumulation of symptoms between the time of first onset and the time required for providers to actually diagnose patients,” she said in a Mayo news release.
The study also found that chronically increased levels of difficulty with daily activities (functional disability) continued even after patients were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and began treatment. This may be due to a number of factors, including increasing physical and mental pain, the use of treatments such as glucocorticoids and antidepressants, and anticipation of relief from symptoms, she added.
For the study, the researchers looked at 586 rheumatoid arthritis patients and 531 people without the disease in the Rochester Epidemiology Project database of medical records.
The rate of functional disability was more than two times higher among rheumatoid arthritis patients than in