Objective: To study bone mineral density (BMD) in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis.
Methods: Dual x-ray absorptiometry was performed in 227 patients, 149 women and 78 men, with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) of no more than 12 months duration.
Results: Women, as well as men above 60 years of age, had a BMD at spine and hip comparable with age and sex matched reference populations. Men younger than 60 years had a tendency to lower BMD. Although the proportion of female patients with osteoporosis was not higher than in the reference, population the proportion of patients with reduced bone mass was increased, and this was found also in men. There was no significant association between BMD and disease duration, disease activity or disability.
Conclusion: Untreated patients with early RA have a BMD in spine and hip not significantly different from that of normal reference populations. However, an increased number of the patients had reduced bone mass already at disease onset.