Nearly 40 million people of all ages - one in seven Americans - are affected by arthritis or a related disease that affects the joints, muscles and bones. These diseases can cause severe health impairment leading to death, but their impact is usually reflected in restricted activity, loss of productivity, increased utilization of medical services and the high cost of medical and disability expenses. The Washington University rheumatology specialists at Barnes-Jewish provide care for patients with a wide range of rheumatic diseases, including arthritis, vasculitis, musculoskeletal, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, as well as other diseases of the bones and joints.
Common problems our specialists treat include:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Behcet's disease
- Gout and pseudogout
- Lupus (SLE)
- Marfan's syndrome
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD)
- Polymyalgia rheumatia
- Reiter's syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren's syndrome
- Temporal arthritis
- Wegener's granulomatosis
Barnes-Jewish Hospital rheumatologists offer a level of experience and expertise available at few centers in the nation. Among the leading-edge treatments currently offered are plasma pheresis and IV infusion therapy, which provide alternate forms of therapy for appropriate patients who suffer from various rheumatologic disorders.
Washington University also has opened the new Center for Arthritis and Related Diseases, which seeks to integrate all aspects of arthritis patient care, education and research with the many different types of expertise available at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
A number of promising new therapies currently are being evaluated at the Center. Preliminary information from the evaluations of new drugs suggests that they will be highly effective and produce fewer side effects than those currently available.
Basic science and clinical researchers within the Washington University Division of Rheumatology are heavily involved in research to increase our understanding of the immune system and various rheumatic diseases. In the last four years, the extramural research funding has more than tripled due to new leadership and through the attraction of world-renown scientists to our laboratories.
Clinical research is performed to determine the efficacy of new therapies in collaboration with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Within the Division, there are a number of promising new drugs in the final stages of study, particularly for rheumatoid arthritis, that are available for appropriate patients through such clinical trials. And, through participation in past trials, our experts have experience with a variety of new drugs that recently received FDA approval.
Investigators at the Center for Arthritis and Related Diseases have dedicated themselves to an intensive assault on arthritis and related diseases. Although little is known about the causes of most forms of arthritis, many result from autoimmune diseases in which the immune system, intended to attack foreign invaders, turns instead to attack normal body tissue.Investigators at the Center focus on learning to regulate the overactivity of cells and proteins in the blood that result in these self-destructive reactions.
This approach promises to lead to new therapies for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, just as discovering the cause of Lyme disease, a potentially disabling form of arthritis that can also significantly damage the heart and brain, led rheumatologists to a simple antibiotic cure.