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NICE guidance to improve rheumatoid arthritis care

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NICE is issuing new guidance on the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in a bid to ensure a consistent approach to the condition across England and Wales

The advice from NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) will concentrate on the early diagnosis and specialist treatment of the painful condition, which affects 400,000 people across the UK.

There is currently no cure for the condition, but the guidelines director hopes the advice will help people manage their condition.

Dr Fergus Macbeth, said: ‘This new guideline incorporates a suite of previous Nice technology appraisals on drug treatment, so these together with the new guideline recommendations will enable health professionals to provide the best care for adults with RA to help reduce the impact of the condition.’

The guide calls for people with suspected symptoms to be referred to a specialist and this should be made urgent if the small joints of the hands or feet are affected or if it has persisted for three months or longer since the onset of symptoms.

It also suggests newly diagnosed RA patients should be offered a combination of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs as first-line treatment as soon as possible.

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