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 Delayed diagnosis and lack of awareness continue to remain the leading causes for the steady rise in cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), rheumatologists on the eve of World Arthritis Day said. Experts said that RA is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system starts attacking healthy joints causing inflammation of the tissue that protects them.

Delay in the diagnosis of RA is also due to the lack of specialists due to which patients approach orthopaedics, neurologists and general practitioners and not a rheumatologist, doctors said.

“There are only 11 centres in India to teach rheumatology. The country needs at least 20,000 rheumatologists but there are only 600 of them and there is a need to add more training centres,” says senior rheumatologist, KIMS, Dr. V. Sarath Chandramouli.

Doctors said that it’s difficult to identify the symptoms. “It begins as a normal pain in smaller joints and gradually attacks the rest of the body,” says rheumatologist, Care Hospitals, Dr. Sunitha Kayidhi.

Secretary, Rheumatology Association Hyderabad, Dr. I Rajendra Vara Prasad said that there was a dire need to spread awareness on rheumatology among the public.

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