Importance of early diagnosis and treatment
Suzie Edward May
Author of ‘Arthritis, pregnancy and the path to parenthood’ (rheumatoid arthritis)
I think it’s really important for people to understand that they need to have their condition diagnosed and treated early. So when my symptoms started I was referred to a podiatrist who said I had stress fractures in my feet and that delayed me being referred to a rheumatologist which is what essentially I needed to happen in order to be correctly diagnosed. So from when my symptoms started in July, I wasn’t diagnosed until February, and so during that six-month period of time I developed erosion, which is irreversible in my joints.
Former Consumer Director Arthritis Australia (rheumatoid arthritis)
One of the features of rheumatoid arthritis or any inflammatory arthritis is that if the symptoms aren’t well controlled, then the damage that occurs is permanent, it’s irreversible.
Nurse Practitioner, Rheumatology
If these conditions aren’t treated early, unfortunately the inflammation that occurs can really cause quite devastating joint damage. If you are experiencing some joint issues; so if you see that you’ve got some swollen, red, hot joints, painful joints, you are getting up in the morning they are very swollen, a lot of pain; it is very important you go and see your GP as soon as possible.
Dr. Mona Marabani
We think it’s critically important for people to get early attention for all forms of inflammatory arthritis. It’s especially important in rheumatoid arthritis because we know there is a window of opportunity for treatment, which is about six months in length. During that six-month opportunity, we can possibly arrest the disease or put people into remission if we get treatment quickly enough. But if we don’t, there is the risk of ongoing irreversible damage. So we can prevent damage but once it’s there it’s much harder to fix.
Dr. Irwin Lim
In many cases of patients with inflammatory arthritis, the thing we regret is that they present quite late. It is actually so much easier to control the disease early on. And so for many patients who present with late disease, which has already caused a degree of damage; while we can still help them and we try our hardest to do it, we can’t get the right level of control of the disease usually. It becomes so much harder to reach remission and to reach very low disease activity states. So if I could change one thing, I would love to be able to see patients with inflammatory arthritis at an earlier stage.