Daily measurements of finger joint size, grip strength, and body weight have been made throughout 2 complete menstrual cycles in 7 female patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 6 healthy female controls. Sine wave analysis showed significant individual cyclical rhythms (p less than 0.05) for finger joint size (5 patients, 4 controls), nude weight (5 patients, 3 controls), and grip strength (4 patients, 3 controls). In addition analysis of group data, on the assumption of a 28-day cycle, showed a significant cycle for grip strength in the rheumatoid patients, with a nadir at 28 days. In the normal subjects much of the cyclical variation in finger joint size could be explained by changes in weight (median 49.5%), but this was not so in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (median 2.8%). These findings suggest the existence of a cyclical variation in disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis.
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