Objective To determine the factors associated with gait parameters in female patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Methods The gait analysis was performed in a large cohort of RA patients, and three basic gait parameters (step length, cadence and gait speed) were calculated. Clinical and laboratory data were also collected. Factors associated with gait parameters were analyzed using multivariable linear regression in the three models with forced entry. Then, we divided those patients with Health Assessment Questionnaire disability index (HAQ) scores ≤ 0.5 into two groups according to their gait speed that were compared to identify the characteristics of patients with a good HAQ score but poor walking ability. Results A total of 318 female patients were analyzed. Knee extension strength had the strongest positive association with all three gait parameters (P < 0.0001), while methotrexate use was also positively associated with all three gait parameters (step length: P < 0.05, cadence: P < 0.05 in model 1 and 2; P < 0.01 in model 3, gait speed: P < 0.01). The disease activity score was negatively associated with step length and gait speed (step length, gait speed: P < 0.01 in model 1 and 2; P < 0.05 in model 3). 26% of patients with good HAQ scores showed slow gait speed. Patients with good HAQ scores and slow gait speed had higher disease activity scores (P < 0.05) and lower knee extension strength (P < 0.0001) than those with good HAQ scores and normal gait speed. Conclusions High knee extension strength, low disease activity and administration of methotrexate were strongly associated with good walking ability in female patients with RA. And, even if patients showed good HAQ scores, about quarter of those patients had poor walking ability, and they showed higher disease activity, lower knee extension strength, compared to the patients with normal gait speed.
Morita, Y., Ito, H., Torii, M., Hanai, A., Furu, M., Hashimoto, M., … Matsuda, S. (2018). Factors affecting walking ability in female patients with rheumatoid arthritis. PLoS ONE, 13(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195059