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Optimising outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis

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More than a decade ago, key aspects of care for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) would have involved maintenance of tissue viability, preservation of joint alignment, passive exercises and rehabilitation to preserve functional ability, as well as nutritional considerations aimed at managing weight loss attributed to cachexia.

Since then, treatment has moved on to include disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biological therapies that are effective at controlling disease activity in RA. Furthermore, research has demonstrated that early and prompt disease control improves long-term outcomes in patients with RA. So prompt referral of those who could benefit from these treatments is vital.

Understanding arthritis
Arthritis is a lay term frequently used but poorly understood; there are more than 200 types of arthritis (musculoskeletal conditions).1 The so-called 'inflammatory arthritidies' are the consequence of an inflammatory process and share some common features. They include conditions such as RA, psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

Inflammatory arthritidies

Common features of these conditions include:

- An autoimmune nature of the condition.

- Joint involvement including joint swelling and tenderness.


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