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Do gold rings protect against articular erosion in rheumatoid arthritis?
  1. Diarmuid M Mulherina,
  2. George R Struthersb,
  3. R Deva Situnayakea
  1. aDepartment of Rheumatology, City Hospital NHS Trust, Birmingham , bDepartment of Rheumatology, Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital, Coventry
  1. Dr R D Situnayake, Department of Rheumatology, City Hospital NHS Trust, Dudley Road, Birmingham B18 7QH.


OBJECTIVE To examine the hypothesis that gold rings might delay articular erosion at the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint of the left ring finger in ring wearers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

METHODS Consecutive patients with RA were recruited. They were classified as ring wearers if they had worn a gold ring on the left ring finger throughout most of the time since disease onset, or as non-ring wearers if they had never worn a gold ring. Standard hand radiographs (with rings removed, where possible) were taken and articular erosion was quantified at the MCP and proximal interphalangeal joints.

RESULTS Thirty ring wearers (27 female) and 25 non-ring wearers (12 female) were included. The median (25th–75th centile) Larsen score in the left hand ring MCP joint of ring wearers was 1.0 (1.0–2.0), which was significantly less than in their equivalent right hand joint (1.0, 1.0–5.0, p = 0.01). It also tended to be less than the equivalent left hand joint of non-ring wearers (4.0, 1.0–5.0, p = 0.06), with a similar but significant difference observed at the adjacent middle finger MCP joint (p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS The results of this preliminary study suggest that there may be less articular erosion at the left hand ring, and perhaps adjacent, MCP joints observed in ring wearers with RA. These data support the hypothesis that gold could pass from a gold ring through skin and local lymphatics ‘downstream’ to nearby MCP joint in sufficient quantities to delay articular erosion.

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • hand radiography
  • gold ring
  • articular erosion

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