The President of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), Johannes W. Bijlsma, has called for more timely referrals to specialist care for patients with rheumatic or musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs).
The call to action, which coincided with World Arthritis Day on Friday, October 12, comes at a time when it is estimated that in Europe alone, 120 million people are living with RMDs.
While it is known that early diagnosis and treatment of RMDs can help reduce pain and slow or even prevent disease progression, the organisation has highlighted how RMDs often receive delayed or no diagnosis. It added that improving awareness amongst healthcare professionals and the wider community is an important part of overcoming the challenge presented by RMDs. “Early diagnosis, referral to a rheumatologist, and access to the latest and most effective treatment can lead to better results for these people,” said Professor Bijlsma.
Simon Stones from People with Arthritis and Rheumatism in Europe said general practitioners receive limited training for RMDs, and highlighted the importance of listening to young people and their parents about potential symptoms. “If we get a diagnosis quickly, that child could have such a different life,” he said.