'R.A. CAN BE TREATED IF FOUND EARLY'

Dr. Humeira Badsha MD is an American Board Certified specialist rheumatologist. She has recently joined the team at the Dubai Bone and Joint Centre. In an exclusive interview with City Times she talks about her work, and her hopes for the future.



By Peter Donnelly

Published: Thu 1 Dec 2005, 1:27 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:08 PM

What role does the Dubai Bone and Joint Centre fulfil?

We're trying to make this a complete centre for muscular-skeletal diseases. We already have two orthopaedic surgeons, and I'm the rheumatologist. I treat rheumatic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis as well as autoimmune diseases such as lupus. What we do is different from orthopaedic doctors because we give patients medication, and try to keep them away from the surgeon. We try to see patients early so that we can treat them, and prevent disability and deformity.

What is the difference between rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis?

There are different kinds of arthritis. The most common kind is osteoarthritis which affects most people after the age of fifty or sixty depending on lifestyle, and weight and thing like that. This is general wear and tear where the cartilage gets worn off. RA is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the joints, and causes a lot of disability and deformity. It affects about 1 per cent of the population. We think there are more than 20 million people with RA in the world, and about half the people diagnosed with the condition will become disabled within ten years of diagnosis. But this can be prevented if we identify and treat these patients early.

Is there a cure for RA?

Patients often believe there is no treatment for RA, but this is not true. There is no cure, but we can treat patients with different types of medication, and not just painkillers. These can help prevent the progress of the disease, prevent deformity and disability.

Do any environmental factors contribute to RA?

Many people talk about cod liver oil and alternative treatments. Studies on diet show it isn't a factor. Patients who change diet continue to have RA. Weather doesn't play a role either. People may feel worse when it's cold and damp, but it isn't the weather that's giving them RA. Moving to a warmer climate isn't going to cure people of the disease. However, in all kinds of arthritis weight can play a role. If a patient is obese it affects their joints, so losing weight and being on a balanced diet and being fit helps.

What do you think the Dubai Bone and Joint Centre can offer?

There are three main reasons why I joined the team here. The first is the opportunity to bring quality clinical care to the UAE. There are only around ten rheumatologists for a population of four million. This is much less compared to other developed countries. A lot of these patient's who need early treatment, may not be able to see a rheumatologist or get access to care.

The second reason relates to research. We want to bring clinical trials, and identify the disease process, and the unique characteristics of arthritis in this population. From this we can design tailor made therapies.

The third reason is about education. Not just for students and fellow doctors, but also for the public. It's about the absolute importance of early diagnosis and treatment, and preventing themselves from becoming disabled by RA.


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