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Carol Eustice

Winter Onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis Is More Severe

By June 18, 2009

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The severity of your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may depend on when you got the disease. It's a very interesting concept that has been presented at the annual congress of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR). According to researchers, rheumatoid arthritis patients whose initial symptoms developed in the winter were found to have more severe erosion and joint space narrowing (indicative of cartilage loss) at 6 months than patients whose symptoms first appeared in the summer. After 6 months, patients were found to have more severe rheumatoid arthritis if their initial symptoms occurred in the winter or in the spring compared to those who developed the disease in autumn. The seasonal effect was not observed at a 12-month follow-up though.

Researchers suggested the effect of seasonal onset early on may be due to environmental factors such as winter viruses or vitamin D deficiency that influence "protein citrullination". Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies are often detected in the immune systems of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Makes you stop and think back to when your own symptoms first appeared. In my case -- it was September -- so kind of end of summer, going into autumn. My symptoms were quite severe. So, I'm not fitting into these findings perfectly. It will be interesting to hear when your symptoms first started and how severe your intial symptoms were, as well as the evidence of joint damage on x-rays. Go to our forum and share your story.

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June 19, 2009 at 9:15 am
(1) shannon says:


my onset was severe and at the end of September as well.

i wonder though if the initial symptoms are severe correlates with long term damage being severe.

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