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Feature Article

Early diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Chiwai Tong, Fred J Joshua

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Abstract

Current management of rheumatoid arthritis is focused on early referral, diagnosis and treatment, with the aim of achieving early disease remission and thereby limiting joint damage and functional disability.

Key Points

  • Early referral, early diagnosis and early introduction of disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) therapy can improve the course of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • DMARD therapy, with the aim of reducing joint inflammation, can prevent joint damage and limit functional disability.
  • Regular monitoring of disease activity and for drug toxicity is important.
  • Screening and management of vascular risk factors and osteoporosis are necessary in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Patient education and support are crucial in management.

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