Which patients presenting with arthralgia eventually develop rheumatoid arthritis? The current state of the art

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Early initiation of treatment in patients with inflammatory arthritis at risk of persistence and/or erosive progression is important because it is associated with a reduced rate of progression of joint damage and functional disability. It has
been proposed that a window of opportunity exists, during which disease processes are less matured and disease modification can be more effective. The phase of arthralgia preceding clinical arthritis is likely to be an important part
of this window of opportunity, during which treatment might prevent progression to clinical arthritis. Several proof-of-concept trials in individuals with arthralgia are now evaluating this hypothesis. Central to such trials is the ability to identify groups at high risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in whom preventive treatment can be tested. This review describes the relevance of adequate prediction
making, as well as the accuracy of different types of predictors (including imaging and serological markers) with their value in predicting the progression of arthralgia to arthritis. Despite promising results, studies have been
performed in heterogeneous patient populations and most findings have not been validated in independent studies. Future observational or preventive studies should be conducted with homogeneous patient groups (eg, patients
fulfilling the European League Against Rheumatism criteria for arthralgia at risk of RA) in order to increase interstudy comparability and to allow result validation.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000479
JournalRMD Open
Issue number3
Early online date14 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Nov 2017