Elderly-onset rheumatoid arthritis

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1994 Jun;23(6):367-78. doi: 10.1016/0049-0172(94)90087-6.


Elderly-onset rheumatoid arthritis (EORA), defined as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with onset at age 60 years or over, differs slightly at presentation from younger-onset RA (YORA) by a more equal gender distribution, a higher frequency of acute onset with systemic features, more frequent involvement of the shoulder, and higher disease activity. Longitudinal studies have showed more disease activity, radiographic damage, and functional decline in patients with EORA than in those with YORA. These differences were only found in seropositive patients. Seropositive EORA was reported to be associated with HLA-DR4, in contrast to seronegative EORA. Possible heterogeneity in the pathogenesis of seronegative EORA is supported by the recognition of subsets that overlap with the clinical manifestations of other syndromes such as polymyalgia rheumatica and remitting seronegative symmetrical synovitis with pitting edema. In addition, crystal-induced arthritis and inflammatory osteoarthritis may be difficult to distinguish from EORA. The efficacy and toxicity of second-line drugs is similar in both age groups, but in the elderly caution is needed with the use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs and prednisone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / epidemiology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones