4. Rheumatoid Arthritis

In the fourth article in our series featuring the ïinformation for patients and professionalsÍ section from the latest evidence-based guidelines from SIGN, we reproduce the information section from SIGN guideline number 48, on the early management of rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis

These key messages are not intended for direct dissemination to patients, but are provided for possible use by clinicians in discussing treatment options with patients who have RA. They may be incorporated into local patient information materials.

  • In RA joints become inflamed making them painful, swollen and stiff.
  • The cause of RA is unknown.
  • There is no single test to diagnose RA.
  • RA cannot be cured at present, but in many cases it can be controlled.
  • The progression of RA is different in each person.
  • RA can be treated; reducing pain, stiffness, swelling and damage to joints.
  • The sooner RA is treated the better, the earlier treatment is started the less damage takes place in the joints, meaning less restriction on carrying out normal activities.
  • Treatment with DMARDs should begin as soon as possible after diagnosis.
  • DMARDs take several weeks to start working and should be continued indefinitely.
  • The treatment of RA requires input from a range of health professionals.
Example information leaflet for patients with rheumatoid arthritis
Example information leaflet for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (continued)
Reproduced with permission from: SIGN 48. Management of early Rheumatoid Arthritis. Edinburgh: Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, December 2000. The full guideline can be downloaded from the SIGN website: www.sign.ac.uk
Arthritis related addresses and websites

Arthritis Care
18 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD. Tel: 020 7380 6500; fax: 020 7380 6505; website: www.arthritiscare.org.uk

Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC)
Copeman House, St MaryÍs Court, St MaryÍs Gate, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S41 7TD. Tel: 0870 850 5000/ 01246 558033; Fax: 01246 558007; website: www.arc.org.uk

British Health Professionals in Rheumatology and British League against Rheumatism (BLAR)
c/o The British Society for Rheumatology (see below)

British Society for Rheumatology
(includes British Society for Rheumatology, British Institute of Musculoskeletal Medicine, British Orthopaedic Association, Society for Back Pain Research, Arthritis and Rheumatism Council for Research) 41 Eagle Street, London WC1R 4AR. Tel: 020 7242 3313; Fax: 020 7242 3277; website: www.rheumatology.org.uk

University of Birmingham Department of Rheumatology http://rheuma.bham.ac.uk

Other useful addresses and websites

Disabled Living Foundation
380-384 Harrow Road, London W9 2HU. Helpline: 0845 130 9177 (Mon-Fri 10 am - 4 pm); website: www.dlf.org.uk

Essential Facts: Independent Patient Information Sheets
Health information distributed by GPs www.healthinfocus.co.uk

Health Education Board for Scotland
Woodburn House, Canaan Lane, Edinburgh EH10 4SG. Tel: 0131 536 5500; fax: 0131 536 5501; website: www.hebs.scot.nhs.uk

Help for Health Trust (UK)
Provides consumer information and links to health sites Highcroft, Romsey Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO22 5DH. Tel: 01962 849100; fax: 01962 849079; website: www.hfht.org

Medical Research Council
20 Park Crescent, London W1B 1AL. Tel: 020 7636 5422; fax: 020 7436 6179; website: www.mrc.ac.uk

National Electronic Library for Health: www.nelh.nhs.uk

Organising Medical Networked Information (OMNI)
OMNI/BIOME, Greenfield Medical Library, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH. Website: www.omni.ac.uk

NHS Direct: www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

UK Health Centre
Guide to health/medical information on the internet www.healthcentre.org.uk

Patient UK
UK reference site for the lay person. www.patient.co.uk

Guidelines in Practice, December 2002, Volume 5(12)
© 2002 MGP Ltd
further information | subscribe