Today (12th October) is World Arthritis Day and a really important opportunity to help raise awareness about this life changing condition.
Arthritis affects up to 1 in 4 of all people in the EU – and yet diagnosis of some forms of arthritis and similar disorders can take years. For example, it’s estimated that fibromyalgia remains undiagnosed in 3 out 4 of those struggling with its symptoms. In fact, on average, diagnosis can take up to 5 years.
So, what do we need to know about arthritis?
Well, it’s a complex area with a broad range of symptoms that can overlap with other disorders. This is one reason why it can take some time to get diagnosed.
We all know about osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis but there are many other forms of arthritis including degenerative spine diseases, osteoporosis, ankylosing spondylitis and polymyalgia rheumatica.
Some affect just the joints; others can also affect other areas of your body including your internal organs. Early diagnosis and treatment of some of these conditions is so important and can prevent joint and organ damage, improve long-term function, and increase the likelihood of achieving disease remission.
On the other hand, if left unchecked, the effects can affect your general health and, in severe cases, your life expectancy.
What are the signs and symptoms to look out for?
- Inflammation indicated by joint swelling, stiffness, redness, and/or warmth
- Persistent muscle and joint pain
- Extreme fatigue, lack of energy, weakness, or a feeling of malaise
- Stiffness and restricted range in movement or flexibility
- Joint deformity
- Symptoms affecting the internal organs
- Invisible symptoms e.g. depression and anxiety
Anyone that is experiencing symptoms such as these should consult their GP in the first instance for assessment, diagnosis and, if appropriate, referral onward to a specialist.
If you know or suspect someone may be suffering from arthritis and would like to know more, sign up to our blog. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be explaining more about what to look out for, what preventative action you can take and how to alleviate symptoms. And of course, please help spread the word and help us, to start helping others.
There is no one treatment for arthritis and some forms of it are easier treated than others. In coming weeks we’ll be writing about the various ways that arthritis can be managed. We’ll be looking at areas such as lifestyle, diet and exercise. If you’d like to read more about these areas then keep an eye on our website or like our facebook page.