Early, effective treatment prescribed by a rheumatologist may halt the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, according to study results presented at the 2012 American College of Rheumatology annual meeting. The meeting, which highlights the lastest in arthritis research, is being held in Washington, D.C., from November 10th to 14th.
The weeks and months following onset of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are a critical period when patients must begin treatment to prevent long-term complications of the disease. That critical period is often referred to as "the window of opportunity".
At the annual meeting, French researchers presented results from a 5-year study that evaluated 813 patients with very early rheumatoid arthritis. With early evaluation and treatment prescribed by a rheumatologist, patients who were at risk for developing severe disease were able to control disease progression. Instead of severe disease, many held the disease to a mild level of progression.
Researchers concluded that early referral to a rheumatologist, early treatment, and close monitoring of treatment effectiveness and disease progression are essential for successful management of rheumatoid arthritis.
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