Rheumatism often treated too late

Berlin (dpa) - Rheumatism sufferers are often treated too late,
sometimes because the disease is not recognised immediately, experts
said.

"People with painful, soft swelling of one or more joints should
see a rheumatologist within six weeks of the first symptoms'
appearance," said Edmund Edelmann, head of the Association of German
Rheumatologists, at a medical convention in Berlin.

The same advice applied if a person's joints remained stiff for 30
minutes or more after he or she got up in the morning, he added.

While care for people with rheumatism has improved in recent years, shortcomings remain, Edelmann remarked.

"Only 64 per cent of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis are
regularly treated by a rheumatologist," he said, noting that too few
physicians in Germany, who specialise in rheumatism, treated
outpatients.

Edelmann said that magnetic resonance imaging and high-resolution
ultrasound could help diagnose rheumatism considerably earlier than
traditional X-ray machines. (dpa)