Inflammatory arthritides comprise a variety of chronic progressive diseases that can cause irreversible joint damage early in the disease course. A large proportion of patients with inflammatory arthritis are first seen in the primary care setting, where they present initially before a diagnosis has been made. Early diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is important in preventing long-term damage and disability. Although RA is suspected largely on the basis of clinical findings such as persistent joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, laboratory investigations can contribute to an early diagnosis. This program will focus on the importance of early identification of RA and the proper use and interpretation of laboratory tests in order to provide patients with timely referrals and early treatment initiation.
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