Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease Activity Lower After Bariatric Surgery

(HealthDay News) — For patients with rheumatoid arthritis, bariatric surgery-associated weight loss correlates with lower disease activity, decreased serum inflammatory markers, and less rheumatoid arthritis-related medication use, according to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research.

Jeffrey A. Sparks, MD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study involving 53 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who underwent bariatric surgery. Anthropometrics, laboratory values, rheumatoid arthritis disease activity, and medication use data measures were obtained at baseline (before surgery), at 6 and 12 months after surgery, and at most recent follow-up.

The researchers found that at 12 months after surgery, patients had lost a mean of 41.0 kg and 70% of excess weight (P<.001). 

At postsurgical visits there was significant improvement in rheumatoid arthritis disease activity (P<.001). Six percent of patients had moderate to high disease activity at 12 months after surgery, compared with 57% at baseline (P<.001). Seventy-four percent of patients were in remission at the most recent follow-up (mean, 5.8 years after surgery), compared with 26% at baseline (P<.001). 

Compared with baseline, at follow-up visits, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein level, and rheumatoid arthritis-related medication use were significantly lower (P<.05).

“Other factors, such as improved efficacy of medications, improved physical activity, and metabolic changes, may also have contributed to these postsurgical improvements,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Sparks JA, Halperin F, Karlson JC, Karlson EW, Bermas BL. Impact of Bariatric Surgery on Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis Care Res. 2015;67(12):1619-1626.