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Rheumatoid Arthritis in a Military Aviator

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Moszyk DJ, Sulit DJ. Rheumatoid arthritis in a military aviator. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:63–66.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition whose pathogenesis is determined partially by genetic and environmental factors. Without treatment, 20 to 30% of individuals with this condition will become permanently disabled in a few years. Rheumatoid arthritis and its potential complications can cause significant disability and could seriously affect the performance of an aviator. Traditionally, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARD) and biologics have not been used until disease progression occurs, but they recently have been added earlier in the course of disease for a more aggressive approach to treatment. It has been shown to significantly reduce the number of affected joints, pain, and disability. This newer treatment regimen has helped a military pilot continue his aviation career. We present the case of an experienced designated military pilot who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. He was initially treated early with a DMARD and biologic medication. He has remained in remission and currently only uses etanercept (biologic medication) and a non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drug to control his disease. He has responded favorably to therapy and has few limitations. Due to his positive response to treatment, the aviator was granted military aeromedical waivers for rheumatoid arthritis and chronic medication use.

Keywords: autoimmune; aviation; etanercept; joint disease; methotrexate; rheumatology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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