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Ann Rheum Dis. 2007 May;66(5):690-2. Epub 2006 Nov 24.

Response to intramuscular methyl prednisolone in inflammatory hand pain: evidence for a targeted clinical, ultrasonographic and therapeutic approach.

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  • 1Academic Unit of Musculoskeletal Medicine, Chapel Allerton Hospital, Leeds, UK.



Hand pain with stiffness is a common clinical presentation to early arthritis clinics, with outcome varying from resolution to the development of rheumatoid arthritis.


To assess the response and predictors of response to intramuscular methylprednisolone (MP) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) using a standardised treatment protocol.


Patients with inflammatory hand pain (IHP), defined as predominantly hand pain and morning stiffness of at least 30 min duration, received a standardised assessment prior to receiving intramuscular MP. Response (primary outcome) at 4 weeks was a 50% improvement in symptoms as perceived by the patient; responders who relapsed received repeat intramuscular MP and HCQ.


102 patients were recruited, of which 21% were rheumatoid factor (RF) positive, 23% had clinical synovitis, 25% had raised C-reactive protein level and 55% had ultrasound-detected synovitis. 73% responded, with associated significant reductions in morning stiffness, Health Assessment Questionnaire, painful and tender joint counts, and visual analogue scores (p < or = 0.006 for all). Ultrasound-detected synovitis (p<0.001) and RF (p = 0.04), but not clinical synovitis (p = 0.74), were significantly associated with response to intramuscular MP. 86% who remained on HCQ long term reported a benefit.


Patients with IHP have significant improvement in symptoms and function following intramuscular MP. Further placebo-controlled trials are required to assess the role of intramuscular MP and ultrasonography in managing this patient group.

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