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Arthritis and Rheumatism

RA and OA

08/22/2007

Question:

I have RA and OA. I have xrays and bone scan done that showed that I have alot of OA as well. But I am old 33 years old and has not had an injury to most of my joint that would casue OA. Could RA be damaging my joints that would show up as degenerative arthritis? How can a 33year old get so much OA at such a young age?

Answer:

The purpose of a bone scan is to detect areas of high bone activity. The radiolabeled tracer deposits in areas of increased bone formation. The test is nonspecific, but increased tracer uptake may occur as a result of fracture, metastasis (cancerous spread to the bone), arthritis, bone infections, or others. In the field of arthritis, the bone scan will not necessarily differentiate bone activity from osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The pattern/location of the tracer uptake as well as the intensity of uptake can occasionally be used in an attempt to differentiate between the arthritides, but there are better tests than bone scans for this purpose. In your scenario, it is possible that the bone scan findings were from either OA or RA. It is possible that joint damage induced by RA may predispose that joint to degenerative changes.

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Response by:

Raymond  Hong, MD, MBA, FACR Raymond Hong, MD, MBA, FACR
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University