Rheumatoid arthritis is a common inflammatory joint disorder, with a prevalence of about 1% in the general population. It shows high variability with respect to its course and prognosis. In typical cases an insidious onset of symmetrical synovitis of the small joints of the hands and feet occurs, accompanied by symptoms such as morning stiffness, weakness and fatigue. Besides clinical findings, laboratory tests and imaging techniques are other cornerstones for diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is anything but a benign disease, potentially leading to disability, chronic pain, morbidity and even early death. Recent studies provide strong evidence that early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for the prognosis of the disease. In recent years, great efforts have been made to detect and establish diagnostic, as well as prognostic, parameters for rheumatoid arthritis. Whereas the reliability of new diagnostic parameters has not been proven conclusively, reliable prognostic factors have been established that may help in identifying patients at high risk for progressive, disabling disease. These risk factors include: high number of joints involved at onset, marked disability, elevated acute phase reactants, a positive finding for rheumatoid factor, female gender, advanced age, presence of certain HLA class II antigens, early x-ray changes, low bone mineral density and job-related physical requirements. As the established classification criteria cover longstanding disease, but not the early stages, it appears necessary to establish a new set of diagnostic criteria for early rheumatoid arthritis. In the case of newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis, more attention should be paid to well-known risk factors. This allows a risk profile to be established for individual patients, which may facilitate decisions regarding therapy. A better outcome of rheumatoid arthritis would not only be advantageous for individual patients, but would also result in reduced costs for healthcare systems.
In order to set up a list of libraries that you have access to,
you must first login
or sign up.
Then set up a personal list of libraries from your profile page by
clicking on your user name at the top right of any screen.