By Dr Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist
Textbooks. Websites, Information Sheets (including ours).
All to be blamed to some extent. Pictures like this are used to teach and inform. Unfortunately, an image like this sticks. People remember.
And this may be an issue.
Most of my patients with inflammatory arthritis do not have hands that look like this. They present earlier, and this typically allows better control of disease and improved longer term outcomes. Most avoid deformity like this.
We can’t afford doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, nurses, patients themselves to wait till their hands become deformed to be properly diagnosed and appropriately treated.
We can’t afford to have health professionals miss inflammatory arthritis just because the hands look “normal”.
It’s fine to show pictures like this as long as we put them in context.
What do you think when you see a picture like this? Does it represent your disease?