Rheumatoid Arthritis: Early Diagnosis and Treatment

Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2022 May;48(2):537-547. doi: 10.1016/j.rdc.2022.02.010.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, progressive inflammatory disorder that manifests as a symmetric polyarthritis of small and large joints that may lead to joint and periarticular structural damage and the consequences of systemic inflammation. This overview of early RA examines the unmet needs and challenges in RA, how to best diagnose RA, and pitfalls in early diagnosis and treatment. The rules for referral to a rheumatologist are reviewed. Primary care physicians are at the front line of early diagnosis and need to start disease-modifying therapy as soon as a diagnosis of RA is established.

Keywords: Early rheumatoid arthritis; Referral; Rheumatoid factor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / drug therapy
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Rheumatologists


  • Antirheumatic Agents