Rheumatoid Arthritis affects around 400,000 adults in the UK, but many people are unaware of the signs and symptoms of RA, leading to late diagnosis and worsening symptoms. Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week aims to change that.
Organised by arthritis charity, the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS), Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week takes place between 13th and 19th June and has two key objectives. The first of these is to raise awareness of and increase understanding of the early warning signs of RA so that people can be diagnosed earlier. The second aim of the campaign is to highlight the invisible symptoms RA sufferers live with, and showcase the resources and support available to help people to better self-manage the condition
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that attacks the body’s joints, causing severe pain and loss of mobility. It is classed as an autoimmune disease and occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. As well as causing stiffness, swelling and joint deformities, the condition can also cause fatigue, depression and flu-like symptoms such as fever.
Anyone can be affected by RA, but it most commonly appears between the ages of 40 and 50, and women are around three times more likely to be affected than men. The exact causes of RA are unclear, but many researchers believe that it is down to a combination of genetic, environmental and hormonal factors. There is also some evidence that lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking too much coffee or eating a lot of red meat can increase your risk of developing the condition.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Back Pain
While Rheumatoid Arthritis is most commonly found in the small joints of the hands and feet, it can occur in any joint in the body, including those in the spine. When Rheumatoid Arthritis is found in the spine, it can cause pain in the lower back and neck, with the pain sometimes radiating into the arms and legs. As the condition advances, it causes deterioration of the spinal joints, which in turn can lead to compression of the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots.
Rheumatoid Arthritis in the spine has a range of painful and unpleasant symptoms which can include loss of flexibility in the affected joints; swelling, warmth or tenderness in the joints; headaches, tingling sensations in the arms and legs and, in more severe cases incontinence and an inability to walk. It’s important to note that symptoms will vary from person to person - some will experience severe pain, while others will only display fairly mild symptoms.
Although RA is not curable, there are steps you can take to maintain day-to-day functionality, reduce or eliminate pain, and slow the progression of the disease. Generally speaking, this will include a combination of medication, dietary measures, and physical therapy and exercise. Early diagnosis is also key, as it enables your doctor to put an appropriate treatment plan in place and limit any joint damage.
Rheumatoid Arthritis can be a painful and debilitating disease, causing difficulties for its millions of sufferers. Events such as Rheumatoid Awareness Week are hugely important in raising awareness of the condition, how it affects people, and the treatment options that are available.
There a number of ways you can get involved with this year’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week. You can connect with NRAS on Facebook or Twitter and share the campaign messages using the hashtag #SpotlightonRA. If you have your own blog, why not consider writing a blog on the topic of RA to help raise awareness of the condition and the campaign, and consider linking to this page and Tweeting us at @badbackcompany. You can also connect with us through our Facebook page – we are really looking forward to seeing more people engage with this campaign.
Tell Me Your Personal Story
Are you a sufferer or someone that helps a sufferer? Why not tell me how you personally manage Rheumatoid Arthritis. Do you follow any specific dietary recommendations, exercises or use any joint supports or supplements that help you manage your pain? Email me personally at Tim@thebadbackcompany.co.uk with your story. Our website feedback shows that many of our supports in particular our magnetic supports are purchased by those suffering from arthritis but I would love to hear your recommendations.
You could also host your own fundraising event, such as a tea party, bake sale or football tournament, helping NRAS to continue the support and information they provide to sufferers of Rheumatoid Arthritis, and their families.
By ‘shining a spotlight on RA’, you can help to ensure that people can access the information and treatment that they need and take back control of their lives.
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