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Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira

Print version ISSN 0104-4230


MOTA, Licia Maria Henrique da; LAURINDO, Ieda Maria Magalhães  and  SANTOS NETO, Leopoldo Luiz dos. Early rheumatoid arthritis: concepts. Rev. Assoc. Med. Bras. [online]. 2010, vol.56, n.2, pp.227-229. ISSN 0104-4230.

Generalization of the concept of early rheumatoid arthritis -RA and existence of a window of therapeutic opportunity, the period when appropriate therapy for this disease would determine clinical improvement, led to the concept that early diagnosis and treatment can change the disease's course. Currently, the goal is to evaluate patients with joint symptoms at the earliest opportunity. Definition of the initial phase of RA includes the first few weeks or months of symptoms (usually less than 12 months), and the first 12 weeks of symptoms of very early or initial RA are considered to be the critical period. Although all patients require early assessment and treatment, there are specific reasons for the involvement of a specialist soon in the evaluation of patients with early RA, since the inflammation that characterizes the disease should be treated as soon as possible. Failure to diagnose or treat a patient with RA at the very early stage of the disease increases the risk of progression to persistent joint inflammation and damage. On the other hand, aggressively treating patients with mild arthritis, which probably will not evolve to erosive forms is equally damaging. It exposes patients to risk without proven benefits and represents the opposite of effective early treatment. Therefore, within the current concept of a window of opportunity, early diagnosis of RA is essential and to establish, as soon as possible those patients who will progress to more severe forms, and therefore require more aggressive therapy.

Keywords : Arthritis; Rheumatoid; Review; Medical records; Diagnosis.

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