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Fall risk high among rheumatoid arthritis patients

April 25, 2013

Seniors living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are well aware of the pain and discomfort the disease can cause, but new research suggests the condition also comes with a number of dangers. Scientists from Manchester University in the U.K. found that an estimated one in three people living with RA will experience a fall this year, which could lead to fractured hips, head injuries and a loss of independence.

The study focused on a group of more than 530 people living with RA. Researchers followed the subjects over the course of a year, more than 36 percent of whom experienced a fall - some suffering more than one during the study. Furthermore, the team discovered that 63 percent of participants blamed their falls on pain and muscle weakness related to their RA. Study authors believe the results can change how the medical community intervenes with RA.

"We hope our findings will be used for further research to develop a falls prevention program which could include exercises to target lower limb muscle strength and challenge balance along with a review of medication," said lead researcher Dr. Emma Stanmore.

Although RA is less common than osteoarthritis, it is often considerably more painful. While medical treatments are available, there are also some home remedies available including gentle exercise and relaxation techniques, according to the Mayo Clinic.