The early arthritis clinic aims to quickly assess, and if appropriate, start treatment for patients with suspected inflammatory arthritis (IA).
It is now recognised that the best outcomes for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are achieved when it is treated early. However, patients often do not show signs of classical rheumatoid arthritis in the early stages of the disease and may not have any pain.
This clinic aims to aid rapid referral and raise awareness of the need for patients presenting with suspected inflammatory arthritis to be assessed early.
What we do
The clinic performs clinical assessments, laboratory investigations and imaging, including ultrasound examinations where indicated. This can be more sensitive than clinical examination alone for picking up the presence of inflammatory arthritis.
The information from these investigations is used to optimise treatment, and identify patients who are at high risk of developing erosive disease. These patients are offered treatment as early as possible, ideally in the 'opportunistic window' within four months of their symptoms starting.