The month of June will see the annual Rheumatoid Arthritis week, so I thought it would be timely to post an article to highlight a condition that affects some 10 million people in the UK.
WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?
Arthritis and rheumatism refers to problems with the joints and the soft tissues around them such as the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Pain and stiffness arising from these structures are extremely common and affect people of all ages for different reasons. Joint problems are one of the commonest reasons of all for consultations with the doctor and almost 50% of people aged over the age of 75 will complain of symptoms. For many this can be distressing or even disabling limiting mobility and threatening ones independence in the home.
There are many different forms of the condition, the commonest being Osteoarthritis which tends to affect us more as we get older. Whilst it is often considered to be wear and tear arthritis or degenerative arthritis age is not the whole story. Previous injury, being overweight, and a family history can all contribute.
Rheumatoid arthritis is quite different caused by a severe inflammation of the moving joints which can arise at any age but mainly from the teenage years onwards. It can affect other parts of the body as well as the joints and is mostly treated by hospital specialists with more powerful and far reaching medications.
There are other connected conditions too such as Gout and other inflammatory conditions similar to rheumatoid arthritis but with different characteristics.
Often the symptoms of pain, swelling and stiffness will suggest arthritis if not the exact type. A detailed description of your symptoms together with a physical examination, blood tests, X rays and scans will determine the type of arthritis that you have and suggest the best treatment.
Treatment usually consists of lifestyle adjustment, medications, physiotherapy, complementary medicines, weight normalisation and sometimes surgery.
LIVING WITH ARTHRITIS
Exercising, strengthening the muscles and protecting your joints are all important. Few of the two hundred or so types of arthritis can actually be cured as such but there is a huge amount of help that can be offered to help people remain mobile and independent.
This includes the Telecare24 careline Service, the UK’s leading care line service which with its special pendants can keep you in touch with highly trained operators around the clock and offer very fast response times which keep you in touch with friends and family or emergency services if needed. Ideal for anybody at risk of falling, who suffer from short term illness, or just returned home from hospital who have physical disability or merely need reassurance that someone is around. The Telecare24 Service comes highly recommended.
ORGANISATIONS WHO PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR ARTHRITIS SUFFERERS
Arthritis Research UK
Arthritis Research UK help people to keep active and provide some really helpful information to both carers and healthcare professionals. You can call them on 0300 790 0400 or by email [email protected]
Arthritis Care are one of the largest charities in the UK and their helpline offers confidential support to sufferers. They have a network of over 170 branches and groups in the UK and can put you in touch with people in your area. They also offer programmes to improve your quality of life. You can contact them on 0800 800 4050 or via email at [email protected]
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society again provides really good information in this specific form of arthritis. Their helpline on 0800 2987650 is available Mon-Fri 9:30-4:30. Their team has access to medical advisors, consultants and nurse specialists to give you specific assistance. They can also be contacted via email at [email protected]