Rheumatoid Arthritis

The Earlier the Better: Recognition of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis in the Primary Care Setting

Print This Post Print This Post

CME Information


Program Overview

Arthritis is a relatively common reason for presentation in the medical office. More than 21% of US adults (46.4 million) have self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis, with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affecting approximately 1.3 million adults. Diagnosing RA in the early stages can be difficult and patients may have subtle to near-normal physical examination. There is extensive emphasis on early diagnosis of RA because early treatment may substantially improve disease prognosis.

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disease that may strike in the prime of life, often between the ages of 20 and 40. Although back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit a physician (59 million people report having low back pain), the diagnosis of AS is often delayed, and it has been suggested that the delay may be attributable, in part, to the inability to differentiate inflammatory back pain from mechanical back pain.

Guidelines have been recently updated recommending early and aggressive treatment of RA to target remission and prevent permanent damage. This program will provide review of the early signs and symptoms of RA for early identification, including ankylosing spondylitis. It will also help to identify and develop strategies for monitoring disease progression, management of comorbidities, and the need for therapeutic adjustments for optimal patient outcomes.


Learning Objectives

After completing this activity, the participant should be better able to:

  1. Identify patients with early signs of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in order to make timely referral to a rheumatologist
  2. Identify patients with early signs of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and make appropriate referrals to a rheumatologist for treatment
  3. Incorporate strategies to monitor disease progression, manage co-morbidities, reduce risk, manage adverse events, and identify the need for therapeutic adjustments for patients being treated for RA and AS


 This activity has expired and is no longer available for CME; however, we hope you still enjoy the education.

Published February 12, 2013

If you are using a mobile device, this activity may not view properly.