The Importance of Prompt Diagnosis and Referral in Moderate to Severe RA
The importance of recognizing RA sooner
As a primary care physician, you may be the first physician a patient sees when he or she experiences symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Studies have shown that over half of patients suffer from joint damage by the time they are diagnosed with RA, so it is crucial that these patients are referred to a rheumatologist as soon as possible, to help inhibit further progression.1-5
Serial x-rays show structural damage of RA over time6
Serial x-rays show structural damage of RA over time
Changes can be seen in joints of the hands, beginning with (A) the swelling of the soft tissue, but with intact underlying cortex and no erosions.
This is followed by (B) thinning of the radial side of the cortex with minimal disturbance of underlying trabeculae and minimal joint space narrowing.
A marginal erosion (C) appears on the radial aspect of the metacarpal head. There is loss of bone substance and joint space narrowing.
©2009 American College of Rheumatology. Images used with permission.
The earlier that RA is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can be initiated that can help inhibit progression of joint damage. If a patient appears to be experiencing symptoms of RA, refer them to a rheumatologist as soon as possible.5
Symptoms to watch for
RA symptoms may include7-9:
- Morning joint stiffness
- Joint pain
- Joint swelling, commonly observed in the hands
Help your patients prepare for their appointment with a rheumatologist
This downloadable conversation guide is designed to help patients prepare for their appointment with a rheumatology specialist. Questions include, "What are my treatment options for RA?" and "When can I expect results?"
Download Conversation Guide for Patients and Rheumatologists
RAconversations is a video series created to demonstrate common discussions that a patient may have with a rheumatology specialist, from questions about the condition to information about taking ENBREL for RA.
Browse additional patient support materials
In medical studies, ENBREL was shown to be clinically effective in about 2 out of 3 adults with moderate to severe RA at 3 months. ENBREL has been shown to begin working in as few as 2 weeks, and most patients who benefit will do so within 3 months. In another medical study, 55% of patients who were evaluated 5 years after beginning ENBREL therapy had no further progression of joint damage.
In a medical study, ENBREL was shown to be effective in about 50% of psoriatic arthritis patients at 6 months. Clinical responses were apparent at the time of the first visit (4 weeks) and were maintained through 6 months of therapy.