Objective: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is clinically an undulant disease, and reasons for flare or remission vary. We aimed to identify factors potentially associated with disease flare and remission.
Material and methods: Two hundred and seventy-four patients with RA who were admitted to our center between January 2010 and January 2016 were included. Disease activity was evaluated using disease activity score 28 (DAS 28); functional status was evaluated using the modified Health Assessment Questionnaire (m-HAQ), a questionnaire that comprises flare or remission domains such as psychological stress and mood status, physical trauma, nutrition regimen, infection, antibiotic use, and seasonal weather changes. Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) were used to identify if patients had a mood disorder. Four subscales of Arthritis Impact Measurement Scale-2 (AIMS-2) (level of tension, mood, general perception of health, and satisfaction with health) were used to determine patient quality of life.
Results: Of the 274 patients, 261 were female (95.3%) and 13 were male (4.7%); the mean age was 52.10±9.41 years. According to patients' perception, the most frequent reasons for joint symptoms were psychological stress/mood disorder (86.1%), followed by infection (49.6%) and trauma (46.4%). The most frequent factors for remission of symptoms were antibiotic use (42.7%), cold weather (34.3%), and hot weather (19%).
Conclusion: Psychological stress and mood status are independent factors for relapse periods in patients with RA. These should be considered particularly in patients who are resistant to different treatment regimens and in whom any other reason for disease flare is not obvious.
Keywords: Depression; anxiety; disease flare; rheumatoid arthritis.