DUBAI // Victims are suffering from the effects of rheumatoid arthritis for almost seven years before the condition is diagnosed.
By that time the disease, in which inflammation attacks the joints, has already started to cause irreversible deformities.
Low awareness and understanding of the symptoms among patients are contributing to the delay in seeking the right diagnosis, doctors say.
“Early diagnosis is important for patients to be able to manage the condition better and delay progression,” said Dr Humeira Badsha, a consulting rheumatologist and founding member of Emirates Arthritis Foundation.
“We notice very often that the disease tends to affect the patients not only physically, but also in their interpersonal relationships, careers and social lives.
“To help them in these situations, we encourage patients to understand their condition thoroughly and work towards managing it to lead a normal life.
“Discussing their condition openly with their doctors and loved ones will help them create a conducive environment which is critical for managing rheumatoid arthritis.”
The Rheumatoid Arthritis – Join the Fight Survey, which was conducted in the UAE by AbbVie, a research-based pharmaceuticals company, together with the Emirates Arthritis Foundation, questioned those living with the disease.
Of those asked, 96 per cent said the disease had a negative effect on their lives.
Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the body’s joints, causing pain, swelling, stiffness and over time loss of function in the joints, along with overall fatigue and weakness.
It affects women more than men, with three times as many females suffering from the disease.