Over 120 million people in the EU are affected by rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases
Today, on the occasion of World Arthritis Day, from Image Biopsy Lab we would like to endorse the arthritis awareness campaign ‘Don’t Delay, Connect Today’. For that, we will give you some insight into this very ailment and the significance of its rapid detection. Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) are leading causes of disability worldwide, afflicting over 120 million people only in the European Union. Yet despite the high prevalence, they remain not well understood, and many of those affected by these conditions are unable to properly recognize the early symptoms.
Among the most prevalent RMDs, we find arthritis. In fact, arthritis is not a single disease but an umbrella term for a myriad of conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis, gout, juvenile arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Although the risk of the most common types of arthritis – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – increases with age, arthritis does not discriminate, and affects both young and old. Generally speaking, the term “arthritis” refers to any disorder that affects the joints, normally following a progressive course. Therefore, the signs and symptoms that make people visit a physician’s office are typically joint pain, swelling or stiffness. Sometimes unrelenting fatigue as well as a feeling of overall weakness are complaints, too.
Early diagnosis is essential for a successful treatment
Left untreated, arthritis can become a serious condition, and even reduce life expectancy. Fortunately, arthritis is eminently treatable, and shows prospects of remission in some cases. Early diagnosis is however, essential for a successful treatment. Indeed, identification at initial presentation and treatment at earlier stage can positively affect the clinical course, thereby preventing or retarding further damage such as joint erosions. Nevertheless, RMDs in general often receive delayed or no diagnosis at all.
This year’s World Arthritis Day theme – ‘Don’t Delay, Connect Today’ – aims to raise awareness of RMDs, and spread the word about the importance of an early diagnosis. The campaign, initiated by The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), intends to engage patient organisations, health professional associations and scientific communities. With a strong activity on social media under the hashtag #ConnectToday, the EULAR campaign seeks to inspire people all around the world to take action and make a difference to the quality of life of those suffering from RMDs.
“Early diagnosis is key to preventing further damage, but RMDs often receive delayed or no diagnosis” – EULAR
Finally, it is also important to bear in mind that difficulties of early diagnosis of RMDs are partially due to the fact that patients can present with a wide range of manifestations, thus leading to a rather subjective diagnosis. Consequently, at Image Biopsy Lab we are engaged in developing novel technology that enables rheumatologists to objectively assess and track some RMDs, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.
written by Ines Fernandez Maestre