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Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2015 Jan;67(1):21-31. doi: 10.1002/acr.22433.

Indicators of walking speed in rheumatoid arthritis: relative influence of articular, psychosocial, and body composition characteristics.

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  • 1Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York.



To explore the contributions from and interactions between articular swelling and damage, psychosocial factors, and body composition characteristics on walking speed in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


RA patients underwent the timed 400-meter long-corridor walk. Demographics, self-reported levels of depressive symptoms and fatigue, RA characteristics, and body composition (using whole-body dual X-ray absorptiometry, and abdominal and thigh computed tomography) were assessed and their associations with walking speed explored.


A total of 132 RA patients had data for the 400-meter walk, among whom 107 (81%) completed the full 400 meters. Significant multivariable indicators of slower walking speed were older age, higher depression scores, higher reported pain and fatigue, higher swollen and replaced joint counts, higher cumulative prednisone exposure, nontreatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, and worse body composition. These features accounted for 60% of the modeled variability in walking speed. Among specific articular features, slower walking speed was primarily correlated with large/medium lower-extremity joint involvement. However, these articular features accounted for only 21% of the explainable variability in walking speed. Having any relevant articular characteristic was associated with a 20% lower walking speed among those with worse body composition (P < 0.001), compared with only a 6% lower speed among those with better body composition (P = 0.010 for interaction).


Psychosocial factors and body composition are potentially reversible contributors to walking speed in RA. Relative to articular disease activity and damage, nonarticular indicators were collectively more potent indicators of an individual's mobility limitations.

Copyright © 2015 by the American College of Rheumatology.

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