Common Rheumatologic Diseases in Elderly Patients

Clement J. Michet, Jonathan M. Evans, Kevin C. Fleming, J. Desmond O'Duffy, Mary L. Jurisson, Gene G. Hunder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


To review common rheumatologic disorders that affect elderly patients and emphasize the unique diagnostic and therapeutic challenges inherent in the management of rhenmatologic diseases in this age-group. We summarize our approach to treatment and management of specific rheumatologic problems in geriatric patients and discuss pertinent studies from the literature. Among the spectrum of rheumatologic disorders frequently encountered in the elderly population are polymyalgia rheumatica, flbromyalgia, giant cell arteritis, crystalline arthropathies (gout and pseudogout), and degenerative joint disease. The initial manifestations of these rheumatologic diseases in elderly patients may differ from the typical findings in younger patients. Geriatric patients may have nonspecific complaints, a decline in physical function, or even confusion. Because of physiologic changes associated with aging and a decrease in functional reserves, elderly patients are susceptible to adverse effects of pharmacologic therapy (including nonste- roidal anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, narcotic analgesics, allopurinol, and colchicine). Clinicians should be alert for such problems as hepatotoxicity and occult gastrointestinal blood loss. Comorbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment may complicate management strategies and may limit the goals of both surgical intervention and rehabilitation programs in elderly patients. Rheumatologic disorders in geriatric patients pose special challenges to.prlmary-care physicians. In the selection of optimal pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapeutic modalities, clinicians should focus on maintaining or improving the patient's quality of life and level of independent function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1205-1214
Number of pages10
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995


  • ESR
  • GCA
  • MRI
  • NSAIDs
  • OA
  • PMR
  • erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • giant cell (temporal) arteritis
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • osteoarthritis
  • polymyalgia rheumatica

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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