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People warned not to ignore body pains.

Abu Dhabi People feeling pain and stiffness should seek immediate medical advice, leading health professionals said in the capital yesterday.

This is because such pains can be from chronic arthritic conditions that are best treated when diagnosed early.

In addition, doctors also urged people to stick to the age-old maxim of saying no to smoking.

"Arthritic pains, which greatly degrade patients' quality of life, are worsened by both active and passive smoking. The harmful habit also significantly reduces the efficacy of medicines used for treatment," Dr Ferdinand Breedveld, professor of rheumatology at the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, told Gulf News.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the inaugural Advanced Rheumatology Review Course, where medical professionals from across the region met with leading researchers to discuss advances in treating arthritic and rheumatic pains.

Loss of function

Patients diagnosed with arthritic diseases usually face gradual loss of function in limbs and joints, and this makes even day-to-day activities like walking or combing hair difficult. Many of these conditions are also known to progressively affect eyes, skin, the spinal cord and various internal organs, the conference was told.

"Lack of awareness worldwide however means that many patients still mistake early discomfort for simple signs of aging. As a result, these diseases are often diagnosed a year or two after incidence, and by then, much of the joints have already been eroded," Dr Breedveld explained.

Seeking to dispel another myth, the leading rheumatologist also stressed that physical exercise was beneficial for arthritic patients.

"There used to be a misconception that too much physical activity eroded the joints and caused pain. There is however solid evidence now that exercise always improves how well patients respond to anti-inflammatory treatment," he added.

While the number of patients affected by these pains in the UAE is not yet known, Dr Mustafa Al Maini, deputy chief medical officer and head of rheumatology, allergy and clinical immunology department at Mafraq Hospital, earlier told Gulf News that a national registry to track the condition was being worked out.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Oct 16, 2011
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