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This month we’re excited to share the latest research. Discover the potential of a blood test for detecting osteoarthritis and learn about a possible link between psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and fibromyalgia. Stay up to date one the latest COVID-19 research, understand how nightmares and daymares may lead to autoimmune conditions, and more.

A Blood Test for Early Detection of Knee Osteoarthritis?

If you could find out through a simple blood test if you are at risk for knee osteoarthritis (OA), would you make lifestyle changes to prevent it? Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have made a groundbreaking discovery that could transform how we detect and treat knee OA. Their new blood test can predict the onset of knee OA up to eight years before it is visible on x-rays, potentially identifying the disease in its earliest stages and providing an opportunity to slow its progression and preserve joint health.

This blood test works by detecting specific biomarkers associated with OA. The Duke Health study demonstrated impressive accuracy, predicting the progression of knee OA with 74 percent accuracy and diagnosing it with 85 percent accuracy. Early detection of OA is crucial, as current diagnostic methods often only catch the disease once it has progressed and caused joint damage.

Imagine the possibilities: Early detection could allow millions of people the opportunity to take proactive steps to slow the progression of OA and preserve joint health.

One in Five PsA Patients Have Widespread Pain

Are you among the 20 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) who experience widespread pain or fibromyalgia? A recent study has found that more than one in five individuals with PsA experience widespread pain, and one in 10 meet the criteria for fibromyalgia. This significant research analyzed data from more than 1,800 patients within the CorEvitas PsA registry, revealing key factors linked to a higher chance of widespread pain or fibromyalgia among those with PsA.

Led by Philip Mease, MD, of the Providence Swedish Health and University of Washington School of Medicine, the study used the Widespread Pain Index/Symptom Severity Scale, providing a practical approach for measuring fibromyalgia in both research and clinical settings.

The findings reveal that patients with fibromyalgia are more likely:

  • To be women
  • Have a shorter duration of PsA
  • Have higher rates of other conditions like cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety

This research underscores the importance of recognizing and assessing widespread pain and fibromyalgia to improve the management of PsA and patient well-being.

Is Your COVID Vaccination Still Effective?

COVID-19 antibodies tend to decrease significantly within six months after vaccination in patients with immune-mediated inflammatory (IMID) diseases, according to a study published in The Journal of Rheumatology. Researchers collected post-COVID-19 vaccination data and dried blood spots from 1,823 adults (mean age, 53.2 years) with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus, ankylosing spondylitis/spondylarthritis and psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis. Samples were taken at various intervals: initially at week 0, then at 2-4 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months after the latest vaccine dose.

The study found that women and those who received more vaccine doses or reported COVID-19 infections between 2021-2023 showed stronger antibody responses. However, certain medications, including prednisone, anti-TNF agents, and rituximab, were associated with weaker antibody responses. Researchers expressed concern about how much rituximab lowered the immune response after vaccination.

These findings suggest taking a personalized approach to vaccination to determine what is best for you, especially if you have an IMID and it has been longer than six months since you were vaccinated.

A Link Between Lupus and “Daymares”

Maybe don’t ignore those strange dreams. An increase in nightmares and hallucinations, sometimes referred to as “daymares,” could signal the onset of autoimmune diseases like lupus.

A study published in eClinicalMedicine surveyed 676 people with lupus and 400 clinicians. Detailed interviews with 69 people living with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases and 50 clinicians revealed that symptoms like disrupted dream sleep and vivid nightmares often precede disease flares. These episodes, described by patients as distressing and vivid, frequently appeared well before the onset of lupus. Hallucinations, reported by about one in four patients, usually started around the time of disease onset or later. Patients expressed a preference for the term daymares to hallucinations to minimize the stigma associated with hallucinations.

Patients and doctors often hesitate to discuss these symptoms, not realizing they can be linked to autoimmune diseases. By paying attention to these mental health and neurological symptoms, both patients and doctors can work together to detect and manage autoimmune diseases more effectively.

A Good Reason to Rethink That Junk Food

Is your diet filled with ultra-processed foods? It might be time to reconsider your eating habits. Ultra-processed foods undergo multiple stages of processing and contain numerous additives like preservatives, sweeteners, and artificial colors. Think of packaged snacks, sugary drinks, instant noodles, and frozen ready-to-eat meals.

Recent research in the British Medical Journal has shown a significant link between high consumption of ultra-processed foods and an increased risk of mortality from all causes. The strongest associations with higher mortality were found in ready-to-eat products made from meat, poultry, and seafood.

For a healthier future, focus on enhancing the overall quality of your diet rather than just eliminating ultra-processed foods. Incorporating more whole, minimally processed foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, can make a significant difference in your health outcomes.

Want to Get More Involved with Patient Advocacy?

The 50-State Network is the grassroots advocacy arm of CreakyJoints and the Global Healthy Living Foundation, comprised of patients with chronic illness who are trained as health care activists to proactively connect with local, state, and federal health policy stakeholders to share their perspective and influence change. If you want to effect change and make health care more affordable and accessible to patients with chronic illness, learn more here. 

Bowdish DME, et al. When Should I Get My Next COVID-19 Vaccine? Data From the Surveillance of Responses to COVID-19 Vaccines in Systemic Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases (SUCCEED) Study. The Journal of Rheumatology. 2024. doi:

Byers Kraus, V., et al. An Osteoarthritis Pathophysiological Continuum Revealed by Molecular Biomarkers. Science Advances. 2024. doi:

Fang Z, Rossato S L, Hang D, Khandpur N, Wang K, Lo C et al. Association of ultra-processed food consumption with all cause and cause specific mortality: population based cohort study British Medical Journal. 2024. doi:

Mease, P., et al. Prevalence of Fibromyalgia and Widespread Pain in Psoriatic Arthritis: Association with Disease Severity Assessment in a Large US Registry. Arthritis Care & Research. 2024. doi:

Sloan, M., et al. Neuropsychiatric Prodromes and Symptom Timings in Relation to Disease Onset and/or Flares in SLE: Results from the Mixed Methods International INSPIRE Study. eClinicalMedicine. 2024. doi:

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