Early Rheumatoid Arthritis: Clinical Guideline for Diagnosis and Management

Early Rheumatoid Arthritis: Clinical Guideline for Diagnosis and Management

Rheumatoid arthritis affects 1 in 100 Australians. It is a major cause of disability and psychological distress due to its chronic, painful and disabling character. Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory autoimmune disease, is the second most common type of arthritis after osteoarthritis. The disease is more common amongst women and in the older age groups. Untreated rheumatoid arthritis can result in joint damage and deformities. The disease impacts on activities of daily living, capacity to work, and family life. Early diagnosis and medical intervention are critical to limiting structural damage and improving health outcomes.

The Clinical Guideline for Diagnosis and Management of Early Rheumatoid Arthritis presents recommendations to assist and support clinical judgement of GPs in managing patients with rheumatoid arthritis. This program, in line with the Guideline, focuses on diagnosis, early management, and coordination of multidisciplinary care needs for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions are reviewed. The Clinical Guideline recognises the need for every patient with rheumatoid arthritis to have a thorough assessment of their individual needs; access to a range of health professionals; and a comprehensive care plan.

This program is one of four in the Musculoskeletal Guideline Series. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed national musculoskeletal clinical guidelines for general practitioners and other primary care health professionals for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and osteoporosis.

Produced by the Rural Health Education Foundation
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