Washington—Aggressive treatment of arthritis pays off, but to be successful, early diagnosis is the key. "This means it's important that the diagnosis be made promptly and therapy instituted early, before cartilage destruction occurs," said James S. Marks, MD, at a briefing session on the public health impact of arthritis for congressional policymakers and their staffs on Capitol Hill.
Marks, who is director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), discussed a new CDC grant program for arthritis education. Next year's budget includes $10 million to implement a National Arthritis Action Plan, under which public health agencies will be encouraged and helped to increase knowledge about arthritis among health care professionals and the public. Experience with other chronic disorders, such as diabetes, has shown that these education programs are important, he said.