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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2009 Jul-Aug;27(4 Suppl 55):S139-45.

Late-onset rheumatoid arthritis and late-onset spondyloarthritis.

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Rheumatology Department of Lucania, San Carlo Hospital of Potenza and Madonna delle Grazie Hospital of Matera, Potenza, Italy.


Both rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthritis may have a late onset. Elderly-onset rheumatoid arthritis is usually defined as rheumatoid arthritis with onset at age 60 or over. It appears to be a heterogeneous disease, with a seropositive subset resembling adult-onset rheumatoid arthritis, and a less severe seronegative subset which sometimes exhibits features overlapping with those of polymyalgia rheumatica. The spondyloarthritis complex includes definite entities as well as undifferentiated forms. Each of these may have a late-onset. Late-onset undifferentiated spondyloarthritis appears to be relatively more frequent than late-onset ankylosing spondylitis. Its clinical spectrum seems to be as broad as that observed in young and middle-aged adults with the exception of distal inflammatory swelling with pitting oedema. A special aspect of the differential diagnosis is the discrimination from other elderly-onset diseases showing the inflammatory swelling with pitting oedema over the dorsum of feet or hands. Psoriatic arthritis frequently begins in the elderly and shows some differences from the younger onset disease. Regarding the management, patients with late-onset rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthritis are treated similarly to younger patients taking into account age-related changes in the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs and the presence of conditions able to reduce medication adherence.

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