Rheumatoid Arthritis

A chronic inflammatory, autoimmune condition that involves many body systems, particularly the joints (musculoskeletal). It commonly affects the hands and even elbow/shoulders causing pain, disability and severe deformity. It requires medical treatment by a rheumatologist and occasionally surgical reconstruction of the more severely involved joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis by the Numbers

  • There were 323,649 hospitalizations for rheumatoid arthritis (RA; mean age 61.0 years; men, 21.5 percent) between 1993 and 2011. During this time, the annual hospitalization rate for patients with a principle discharge diagnosis of RA declined from 13.9 to 4.6 per 100,000 US adults. (Lim 2016)
  • In addition to imposing enormous indirect costs, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) extracts an increasing amount of health care resources. Based on 2005 U.S. Medicare/Medicaid data, total annual societal costs of RA (direct, indirect, and intangible) increased to $39.2 billion. (Birnbaum 2010)
  • A 2009 study found that approximately 43.6 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients had problems paying medical and drug bills after insurance payments and 9.0 percent reported a severe or great burden — being unable to purchase all the medications or care they needed because of out-of-pocket medical expenses. This burden was substantially greater for patients <65 years of age (11.8 percent) compared with those ≥65 years (5.3 percent). (Wolfe 2009)
  • 2007 study found that excess mortality in rheumatoid arthritis has been seen in cardiovascular disease (31 percent), pulmonary fibrosis (4 percent), and lymphoma (2.3 percent). (Young 2007)
  • Psychiatric disorders in rheumatoid arthritis are common, particularly depression, with an estimated point prevalence of 16.8 percent (10 percent to 23 percent) that is significantly greater compared with that of the general population. (Matcham 2013)