New Definition Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis 5.0

Rheumatologists have remade rheumatoid arthritis, a pretty big deal for them if only because it’s “the major systemic rheumatic disease that we as a specialty treat,” said Dr. Michael E. Weinblatt, a Harvard rheumatologist, at the end of a 90 minute session on Sunday afternoon that unveiled a new definition of rheumatoid arthritis to the world.

The culmination of a 3-year collaboration between the American College of Rhuematology and the European league Aagainst Rhuematoism (EULAR), the new RA definition, the first in more than 20 years, is a consensus agreement from a large panel of experts on which patients with a new inflammatory arthritis have enough risk of progressing to erosive arthrtis that all rheumatologists would immediately start treatment with a disease modifying drug…

This is actually the fifth definition of rheumatoid arthritis, a lineage that began just over 50 years ago…

But the main message at Sunday’s session on what this means was that “this sets the stage for us to treat patients earlier,” Dr. Weinblatt said. “It will allow more rapid institution of disease-modifying therapy.”

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The latest news from the 2009 ACR/ARHP Scientific Meeting

Updated: For a more detailed explanation of the new diagnostic criteria for rheumatoid arthritis, please see:

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Mondays And RA


Galileo’s 1616 drawings of the Moon and its phases. Monday is named after the Moon in many languages.

In general, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy likes Monday mornings. These have always represented a new start, a time when my batteries were recharged from the weekend and I was ready to blast through the coming work week.

As a kid I anxiously looked forward to the arrival of Mondays. (I loved going to school, as I found weekends and vacations to be boring.) As an adult, even though I had a job here and there which I did not particularly enjoy, getting back into the work routine as a designer was always something to look for – as long as I focused on the design and not on the usual office games and power plays.

This Monday morning, though, I find myself in a very different position. I feel like it’s 5:01pm on a Friday afternoon, and I just finished the most grueling 80 hour work week. Rheumatoid Arthritis is disrespectful in many different ways, one of the most obvious being that it does not care what day of the week it is, or what time of the day it is.

I used to be one of those RA-newbies who thought that as long as my rheumatoid arthritis limited itself to the weekends and evenings, that everything was going to be okay. Life could go on relatively interrupted.

Who was I kidding?

2:30pm on a Wednesday, when I used to cruise through hump day and glide to the end of the week. Flare. Wipeout.

6:00pm on a Saturday, while getting ready to go to that event that I’ve been looking forward to all week. Flare. No curtain call.

7:30am on a Monday, when I am supposed to feel somewhat refreshed and re-energized. Flare. On empty.

If you could schedule some time into your day planner for your rheumatoid arthritis, what days and times would you choose?

A few years back when I was on Methrotrexate my weekly dose was on Wednesday. (It must be my architecture background that has lead me to always think of Wednesday as the day that supports the entire week, sort of like the body of an airplane supporting the wings.) I was out of service for two days – the day I took my pills and the following day. I was not working on a contract at the time, so everything was okay.

But then I got a new gig. And I had to start traveling during the week. There was no way that I could maintain my same MTX schedule. So I swapped my dosage day to Saturday. And just like that, my weekends vanished. Missed birthday parties, missed baseball games, missed weekend bbq’s as I shivered in bed with nausea and headaches. (Back to RA newbie land, I continued to believe my rheumatologist as she told me the benefits I was experiencing…which to be precise, were none…were worth all of the side-effects that I had.)

During some of my worst flares, just knowing what day of the week it is helps me to maintain my orientation and keep my thoughts balanced. In the past, I used to lose all contact with what surrounded me, including what day of the week it was.

As I start this week, I am definitely a little (okay, a lot) beaten up by rheumatoid arthritis. But it’s Monday, the start of the new week, and as I have done in the past, I will welcome this day and remain cautiously optimistic about what the coming days might bring.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

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Insecticide Exposure Tied To Increased Risks For Arthritis And Lupus

Regular or long-term exposure to consumer insecticides may increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. That’s the finding of a new study presented at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual scientific meeting in Philadelphia.

Previous research has suggested a link between exposure to agricultural insecticides and the development of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus; but in this study, scientists set out to determine if the same risks could apply to bug killing chemicals applied around the home, yard or garden.

The use of bug sprays is common. Surveys suggest that as many as three-quarters of households use them, and there are hundreds of millions of tons of such products produced every year.

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Having grown up in an agricultural area where crop dusters were a common sight, I’ve always wondered if this is in any way related to the fact that I now have rheumatoid arthritis. It’s nice to see that more studies on this topic are being published.


Sunday Break

Because there is no such thing as taking too many breaks!



Mud has had a great impact on my life. One of the reasons I moved a few years ago was so that I could explore adobe construction. On a recent project, I challenged myself to use as many natural and ecological building materials as possible in my design. These photos show some of the results from this project. (Left to right) Roof built from an extremely compressed thick layer of hand-cut straw. Ceiling lined with hand-sewn reed mats, supported by natural eucalyptus trunks. Stack of rustic clay roof tiles. Adobe bricks drying in the sun.


Up until yesterday, I never knew how much shoulder pain could be caused solely by the weight of my arm. I almost felt like putting on a sling! Shoulder pain seems so much more intense than pain in my other joints…I wonder why.


Currently reading A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. (If you are into the standard textbook history of the U.S., then this book is not for you.) Last night I finally saw Monsters vs. Aliens…cute movie. I loved it when the little blue alien was flirting with the jello.


Texas beats Oklahoma. Top-ranked Florida barely squeaks by Arkansas. Notre Dame last-second attempt to try to tie with USC is not successful. What a great day of college football yesterday!


Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!