Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis

05Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis is Key in Early Detection and Subsequent Treatment. Health Meets With Specialist Rheumatologist Dr. Ghita Harifi Who Explains More.

UNDERSTANDING
There is still much about the disease that is unknown, including the precise cause. However, Dr. Harifi insists that early detection is the most important factor for this disease. If diagnosed early, the correct treatment can be started as soon as possible, which significantly affects the disease’s outcome.

THE FIGURES
The global prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis is 1 percent. In the UAE, a recently published study done in Dubai has shown a prevalence of 0.9 percent. Dr. Harifi adds, “Although most common in women between the ages of 30 and 50, anyone, at any age, can get it and it may even occur in childhood. Women are three times more likely to suffer from it than men.”

GOOD NEWS
However, early diagnosis is now possible thanks to new clinical criteria, as well as an increasing number of new diagnostic tools that include musculoskeletal ultrasonography, which allows patients to detect signs of early inflammation in the joints, is available.

SIGNS
Dr. Harifi points out you may notice joint pain and morning stiffness, with  or without joint swelling, which usually lasts for longer than 30 minutes.  It typically starts in small joints of the hands and knees, but can also start in the elbow, knee, and ankle. You need to be examined by a rheumatologist as early as possible because there is a ‘window of opportunity’ for the most efficient treatment. During this period, it is the most likely that you will avoid joint damage.

For more information, visit www.arthritis.ae

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