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Arthritis Care - You Are Not Alone

Arthritis Care is the UK’s largest organisation working for people with arthritis. As well as raising awareness of the condition, Arthritis Care also runs a free and confidential helpline, offering support to anyone who needs it. Flexiseq spoke with Rachael Twomey who works on the Arthritis Care helpline to help us understand more about arthritis and how it impacts people's lives.

The latest UK statistics…

Show that there are approximately 10 million people living with arthritis in the UK; that’s one in five of the adult population. Research conducted by Arthritis Care shows that many people delay seeking help, either because they don’t think they have the condition or because they think nothing can be done. It’s key to remember you’re not alone.

Often people don’t distinguish…

between arthritis as a condition that can be managed and simply getting old. So sometimes there is a lack of understanding that arthritis is not simply part of aging, in fact arthritis affects people of all ages. People can find that their experience of joint pain isn’t taken seriously because it is not very well understood by many people.

Something we find from the helpline is…

that not enough people are aware of the debilitating pain of arthritis. Because most forms of arthritis are invisible, the pain can range from mild to severe, depending on the stage of the condition. Many callers tell us that family, friends and colleagues just don’t understand the extent of the pain that they’re in. Pain is something very hard to communicate to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

Here at the Arthritis Care helpline…

we get a wide range of calls. We focus on all types of arthritis, of which osteoarthritis is by far the most common. The most common issue we’re asked about is living with pain, it cuts across every form of arthritis. People ask us about the pain, how to manage it and how to handle it when the pain relieving medicine becomes less effective. Perhaps someone has been soldiering on for years and they’ve finally got to a point where they can’t do it anymore.

Different types of pain management…

will work for different people. Methods that can help include appropriate exercise (to build up muscles around the joints and keep the joints mobile), getting the right balance of activity and rest and the use of heat and cold packs against affected joints. Developing good awareness of your body and learning different ways of carrying out daily tasks, or simplifying daily life, can be helpful.

We estimate that…

8 out of 10 people over 50 are affected by arthritis. That’s because the cartilage (the connective tissues found between joints) tends to get thinner over the years. People who have had a major injury to a joint can also be affected.

There are lots…

of examples of people living with arthritis you can learn from. Many people up and down the country are living well with arthritis – looking after their health, doing activities they enjoy, conserving time and energy for things that are important to them, maintaining existing relationships and developing new ones. You can read some of their stories on the Arthritis Care page.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle…

Through diet and exercise can help with the pain associated with arthritis.

The right kind of exercise…

can help with the management of arthritis, especially at the earliest stages. Doing exercises which build muscle around the joints can help strengthen them. Combining this with flexibility, balance and a healthy body weight, are important for everyone, but they’re especially important for managing arthritis.

There are ways in which arthritis can…

have an impact on emotional wellbeing. If people aren’t getting the help and support they need to manage the condition then living with pain, social isolation, limited mobility can contribute to low mood. It can make it harder to manage those things that help arthritis like the daily exercises and healthy eating.

We’re not experts in mental health but…

we know that many people with arthritis have another long term condition including depression. On a daily basis we speak to people who, whether diagnosed or not, are certainly struggling emotionally or with low mood. People’s experiences are always so individual but one of the key messages we try and convey to people who have depression and arthritis is acceptance of your condition. It’s very natural when people are first diagnosed or when the condition has deteriorated in some way to be focussed on what can’t be done and to look back on a previous time when things were different. But understanding what can be done in the present, getting help and support to make that happen is really important.

To find out more about Arthritis Care click here.

You can call the Arthritis Care helpline on 0808 800 4050.

You can follow Arthritis Care on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

 

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