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Rheumatol Int. 2007 Apr;27(6):579-84. Epub 2007 Feb 8.

Association of bone mineral density and vertebral deformity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

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Clinic of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Ankara Numune Education and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey.


The aim of this study was to investigate the association of vertebral deformities developed as a result of osteoporosis in female patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with bone mineral density (BMD) and disease activity parameters. In the study, 100 female patients with the diagnosis of RA and 56 healthy subjects were recruited. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP) and rheumatoid factor (RF) tests were performed and the number of swollen and tender joints, level of pain and health assessment questionnaire (HAQ) were recorded in order to evaluate disease activity. Anteroposterior and lateral thoracic and lumbosacral roentgenograms of all patients were taken for radiological examination and deformities of vertebrae were assessed. BMD measurements of patients were performed on vertebrae L1-4 of lumbar region and on total hip, femur neck, trochanter and Ward's triangle of the right side. Vertebral deformity was established in 30% of RA patient group and 7.1% of control group and this was statistically significant. In the statistical analysis, no statistically significant difference was found between BMD measurements of RA and control groups. Patients with RA were divided into two subgroups with regard to using corticosteroids (CS) or not. Vertebral deformity was 32.4% in the subgroup using CS and 24.1% in the subgroup not using CS, and the difference was not statistically significant. There was a correlation between number of deformed joint and age and vertebral deformity incidence. RA is a risk factor on its own for the development of osteoporosis and vertebral deformity and this risk increases by age, excess number of deformed joints and severe course of disease. We think that precautions should be taken immediately to suppress the disease activity as well as to protect the quality and density of bone and to prevent the development of vertebral deformity and fracture while planning the treatment of patients with RA.

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