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A key element in successful patient care in RA is early recognition of the disease. Public awareness of the clinical presentation and potential consequences of a RA is still poor and many patients wait too long before presenting their symptoms to medical professionals (Westhovens et al., Belgian 2005 data, unpublished).
‘ If you have any symptoms highlighted in the poster which might possibly relate to either rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, which are the three most common forms of inflammatory arthritis, then seek help from your GP, don’t delay’.
Symptoms present for at least 4 weeks but less than 1 year
Early morning stiffness of > 30 mins
AND ANY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
3 or more swollen joints
Tender/involved metacarpophalangeal joints
Tender/involved metatarsophalangeal joints
First, aim at remission induction as soon as possible using intensive initial treatment strategies secondly, once that objective is reached, treat to target based on disease monitoring and prompt treatment adaptation in the case of derailing
There is also a need to educate medical professionals in order to facilitate the diagnostic process in the early disease phase. In several countries carefully trained patient-partners are put at the frontline of medical education, offering students and postgraduate professionals the unique opportunity of sharing patient experiences and hands on training in musculoskeletal examination.