Rheumatoid Arthritis: Don’t miss the Window of Opportunity

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Don’t miss the Window of Opportunity

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I can’t allow 2010 to end without mentioning the importance of the window of opportunity in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

TIME (wasted) = JOINT (damage)

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the immune system, attacking joints primarily.

This disease causes progressive joint pain, stiffness, swelling, difficulty in use and then ultimately, destruction and deformity of the joints.

This path occurs with untreated disease.

It has become clear, through many scientific trials, that early diagnosis, followed by aggressive treatment, can alter this natural history of rheumatoid arthritis.

This window of opportunity is thought to exist in the first few months of the disease.

TIME (wasted) = JOINT (damage)

It is therefore crucial that patients are referred to and assessed by a rheumatologist as early as possible.

If the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is made, treatment will typically be commenced early with the aim of achieving remission as soon as possible.

Rheumatologists now have access to highly effective medications, and we also understand the importance of regular monitoring, measuring disease activity and treating a patient with rheumatoid arthritis holistically.

The aim is to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. The end result we want to avoid is crippling joint disease.

Don't accept that "it's just arthritis". Please seek attention early.

Dr Irwin Lim is a rheumatologist and a director of BJC Health. You should follow him on twitter here.
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