Rheumatoid Arthritis Week – What We Learned

Raising Awareness of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong condition that affects so many people – and an awareness week is being held to support them.

It’s a condition that affects many people, but rheumatoid arthritis is still largely misunderstood. It’s this lack of understanding that lead to Rheumatoid Arthritis Week being created. Since its inception in 2013, Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week has helped bring awareness to a condition that’s often just thought of as a normal part of getting older. By showing that rheumatoid arthritis can affect anyone, it’s helped people to seek treatment sooner and to provide information to sufferers as well as their family and friends.

What Is The Condition?

So what is rheumatoid arthritis? Most people would say that it’s wear and tear on the joints, which many older people experience. That’s incorrect – what they’re thinking of is osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can affect the whole body. As well as joint pain, stiffness and swelling, it can also cause fatigue, flu-like symptoms and a loss of appetite, leading to weight loss.

It can also lead to complications involving the heart, lungs and eyes and may often be a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. It is often diagnosed between the ages of 40-60, although it can affect people as young as their early teens. As there is no cure, sufferers are understandably more prone to suffering from depression. So that’s why the right information, support and treatment is essential – lives depend on it.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Week - What We Learned

A Week For Change

Rheumatoid Arthritis Week was set up to educate and raise money, and this year the theme is ‘Spotlight on RA’. It aims to reach out to those unaware of the condition, and get people who are brushing off their symptoms as a normal part of ageing to seek medical help. Focusing on the symptoms of Stiffness, Swelling and Fatigue, it’s hoped that more people will be able to identify these symptoms and understand that a long-term condition like RA needs to be treated as soon as possible to avoid complications.

It will also help those living with the condition by showcasing the support and resources that the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) provides to help them manage their condition. It will shine a light on the invisible symptoms too – and educate those close to sufferers that someone doesn’t need to look ill to be having a bad day. It’s this kind of support that helps people with RA to live happy lives and take control of their health.

How You Can Help

So what can people like you and I do to get involved? Well, the NRAS encourages social media users to raise awareness by writing blog posts and changing their profile photos. More and more people find out about these kind of awareness events online, and social media is the perfect way to inform people in a relaxed, accessible way. Hosting tea parties or bake sales is a great way to raise money too – and they can be held at home or in the workplace. T-shirts and wristbands are also really easy and effective ways of identifying yourself as a NRAS supporter.

A Worthy Cause

Rheumatoid Arthritis Weeks have been really successful in recent years, and this June they’re trying to reach more people than ever. If we all join in and try to do as much as we can, we can not only start a national conversation, but change the lives of people being diagnosed and living with the condition. Now that’s a great cause to get behind.

Tim Everett is a Registered Osteopath and the director of The Bad Back Company, which offers information, pain guides and products to help alleviate joint and back pain.

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