, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 593-597
Date: 22 Jan 2010

Rheumatoid arthritis among Nigerians: the first 200 patients from a rheumatology clinic

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Abstract

Rheumatoid arthritis has uncommonly been reported among Africans and rarely among West Africans. Most of the reported cases have been from Southern Africa. A recent awareness of increased reports of RA among Nigerians necessitated this study. The objective of this retrospective study was to identify the clinical presentations, laboratory characteristics as well as treatment regimens of Nigerians presenting with rheumatoid arthritis to a private rheumatology clinic in Lagos, Nigeria. This is a retrospective study of consecutive rheumatoid arthritis patients seen over a period covering 7 years and 10 months diagnosed using the ARA Criteria for RA. Laboratory tests and radiographic investigations were carried out. Treatment was with NSAIDs, prednisolone, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologics. RA accounted for 12.3% of a total of 1,623 patients presenting to the clinic with rheumatologic complaints over the study period. Females were mostly affected (F:M—2.4:1) and mean age is 46.9 years. Duration of symptoms before presentation was 4–264 months with a mean of 63.4 months. The proximal interphalangeal joints were mostly involved. Subcutaneous nodules were seen in 29.5% of the cases while rheumatoid factor was found in 38.5% of the subjects. ESR was mostly elevated and radiographic changes were mostly mild with 29.2% showing erosive changes on radiographs of the hands. Treatment was variously with non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), prednisolone, and DMARDs. Rheumatoid arthritis is not uncommon among Nigerian; and clinical, serologic acumen are necessary for early diagnosis and appropriate referral.