Early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis 'vital'

Early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is essential for positive outcomes for patients, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center found that patients assessed by rheumatologists soon after symptoms appear have a better chance of DMARD-free disease remission as well as less joint destruction.

The study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, studied the association between delay in seeing a physician and rate of DMARD-free remission and joint destruction.

It was found that early treatment dramatically improves the outcome of treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Jane Tadman from Arthritis Research UK said: "Unfortunately, in the real world, the average length of time that people with rheumatoid arthritis wait before going to their GP after developing symptoms is 12 weeks - and then there is a further wait before they are referred to see a specialist and start treatment."

Rheumatoid arthritis ultimately affects a person's ability to carry out everyday tasks and those who have it may opt to find a care home or choose assisted living to help them out.

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