Mistakes in the handling of arthritic patients often lead to unnecessary deformities and crippling. In some instances omission of proper therapy delays early recovery.
Some practitioners unfortunately treat arthritic patients for long periods without first establishing a definite diagnosis. Every effort should be made to diagnose the type of arthritis as soon as possible. This does not mean, however, that affected joints should not be splinted or that mild analgesics should not be given during periods of study of the patient. Physicians frequently err on this side and permit contracture deformities to develop and pains to persist because they think only in terms of a diagnosis without considering the patient's pain and discomfort and the progressive development of deformities.
Every patient with joint symptoms should have a complete history, thorough physical examination and appropriate laboratory tests. Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, may be simulated by numerous nonarthritic entities, such as parkinsonism,