A Comparison of the Risk of Fracture in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients with and without Receiving Chinese Herbal Medicine

Hou Hsun Liao, Hanoch Livneh, Yu Jung Chung, Ching Hsing Lin, Ning Sheng Lai, Hung Rong Yen*, Tzung Yi Tsai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) often suffer from bone complications due to persistent joint inflammation, especially incident fracture. Nowadays, Chinese herbal medicines (CHMs) have provided safe and effective therapy for treating skeletal conditions, but it is unclear whether CHMs can prevent fracture onset among RA individuals. This study aimed to determine the association between the use of CHMs and the risk of fracture among them. Methods: This retrospective, population-based study retrieved administrative health data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance (NHI) database to identify patients with newly diagnosed RA between 2000 and 2009. Of the 6178 incident RA patients, 2495 matched pairs of CHMs users and non-CHMs users were identified by propensity score matching. Enrollees with hip fractures prior to RA onset were excluded. Included subjects were followed until the end of 2013. Incidence and adjusted hazard ratios (HR) of new-onset bone fracture in the multivariable Cox proportional hazard model were measured with 95% confidence interval (CI). Results: Fracture incidence was lower in CHMs users than in the comparison cohort (26.91 vs 32.94 per 1000 person-years, respectively), with an adjusted HR of 0.82 (95% CI: 0.73– 0.92). Subjects receiving CHMs for more than 2 years had a much lower risk of fracture onset by more than 50%. Some CHMs prescriptions (Yan Hu Suo, Bei Mu, Da Huang, Dang Shen, Fu-Zi, Shu-Jing-Huo-Xue-Tang, Dang-Gui-Nian-Tong-Tang, Jia-Wei-Xiao-Yao-San, Gan-Lu-Yin, and Gui-Zhi-Shao-Yao-Zhi-Mu-Tang) were associated with reduced fracture risk. Conclusion: Adding CHMs to routine treatment was found to be related to lower fracture risk in RA patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3399-3409
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Liao et al.


  • Chinese herbal medicines
  • Fracture
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Risk


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