Serial measurements of bone mineral in 17 ambulant female patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) of recent onset and 19 age matched female controls were made in the radius by computed tomography and in the vertebrae by dual photon absorptiometry. Loss of trabecular bone from the distal radius was more rapid in RA (p = 0.0014), but there was no difference in the rate of loss of bone mineral from the radial midshaft or lumbar spine compared with the controls. This study is consistent with the hypothesis that the predominant form of bone loss early in the disease is the vicinity of affected joints.
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