The role of the general practitioner and the out-of-hospital public rheumatologist in the diagnosis and follow-up of patients with polymyalgia rheumatica
AbstractPolymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by shoulder and pelvic girdle pain. Its onset peaks around the age of 75; the prevalence increases until the age of 90 and it is more frequent in females. Diagnosis is mostly performed on the basis of symptoms. An increase of serum inflammatory markers is indicative, but not essential, while therapy is mainly based on glucocorticoids. Since there is no universal agreement about diagnostic criteria for PMR, its detection is still difficult. There are discordant opinions about the fact that PMR can be recognised and managed by general practitioners (GPs), while patients with atypical features need to be referred to the rheumatologist. In the Italian setting, the absence of recent epidemiological studies is associated with the total lack of a research protocol in primary care, from which relevant information could be derived. The out-of-hospital public rheumatologist is a peculiar figure of the Italian National Health System, who takes care of outpatients. Although differences between the different Italian regional health services exist, this professional figure has proved to be effective in reducing delay and increasing accuracy in PMR diagnosis.
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