What to Expect for the Early Arthritis Clinic at AOCBV

Early Arthritis Clinic - Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis affects nearly 2.5 million Americans and can lead to significant joint damage, disability, co-morbidity, and even premature death. Research has conclusively shown that delays in diagnosis or therapy can lead to hazardous outcomes. Early, aggressive therapy with the goal of inducing remission has a favorable effect on outcomes. These findings have led us to establish an Early Arthritis referral Clinic (EAC) to serve our community. The purpose of the clinic is to initiate a rapid evaluation, provide a timely and accurate diagnosis, and implement an effective therapeutic plan. This clinic is modeled after other successful programs across the US and Europe (Cush & Kavanaugh, 1995, Professional Communications, Inc.) and follows the guidelines published by Emery et al.

About the Early Arthritis Clinic (EAC)

Patients of the Early Arthritis Clinic will be seen and evaluated within two weeks. The patients with confirmed RA will be seen every 2-3 weeks until remission is achieved. Once in remission, the patient may be either referred back to you for further management and monitoring or followed in our clinic depending on your preference. We do ask that you please specify referral vs. consultation in order to avoid confusion. A patient may be considered to have Early RA if he or she has any of the following:

  • 3 or more swollen joints
  • Joint symptoms for > 6 weeks but < 6 months
  • Morning stiffness > 30 minutes
  • Positive MCP or MTP “squeeze” test to elicit pain
  • Abnormal ESR, CRP, Serum Rheumatoid Factor, or Anti Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide Antibodies

We hope that this rapid referral clinic will assist your patients and our community in providing appropriate, highly effective therapy in a timely fashion. With your help we can have a strong impact on this once crippling disease. The recent availability of new therapies (Enbrel, Remicade, Kineret, Humira, Rituxan, Orencia, Simponi, Cimzia, Actmera) has facilitated the accomplishment of this task. In addition, new diagnostic criteria proposed by the European League Against Rheumatism as well as the use of ultrasound and MRI, are helping identify those elusive early RA cases. Please feel free to call us with any questions. We look forward to working with you.

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