Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease which carries a high level of morbidity. People with RA suffer pain, stiffness and joint deformities which can have a significant impact on physical and psychological wellbeing. Having RA increases the risk of other conditions, including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and depression.
The disease can strike at any age and almost half of patients are of working age. Early recognition of symptoms by primary care clinicians is essential so referral for specialist assessment can be made. This will facilitate an early diagnosis so interventions which are known to improve outcomes can be initiated.
In a previous article1 we discussed the signs and symptoms of RA. In this article we consider the evidence based management of this debilitating condition and include the latest advice on how to treat it, focussing on what general practice nurses (GPNs) need to know.
By the end of this article you should be able to: