talkhealth arthritis survey results

Arthritis is estimated to affect around 10 million people in the UK alone. There are a number of different forms of the condition, and it can be caused in a number of different ways. Ahead of the talkarthritis hub launch, talkhealth conducted a survey on arthritis in order to establish the size and demography of the community of arthritis sufferers already existing within the broader talkhealth community, and to learn about their awareness of the nature of the condition, the measures they have already taken to combat their symptoms, and their opinions of the help and care they have received.

Over 3,300 people completed the survey. We’ve uncovered large patient communities affected by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as smaller communities with a number of less common forms of the condition.

Over ¾ of respondents indicated a willingness to take part in future surveys and product trials/tests, displaying a desire and willingness to contribute to understanding the condition and to help themselves and others to better control and alleviate their symptoms.

Demography

Over half of those who completed the survey were themselves living with arthritis; nearly a quarter were carers of arthritis patients. The remainder reported being ‘concerned about getting arthritis’ in the future. Just under half reported a history of arthritis in their families.

Three quarters of those who took part in our arthritis survey were female and a quarter male. Most were aged between 41 and 65.

Our survey shows that the most common forms of arthritis affecting participants of our survey were osteoarthritis (39%) and rheumatoid arthritis (34%). 9% were most affected by fibromyalgia, a less common condition usually consisting in constant widespread pain throughout the body. There were also communities of more than 50 individuals most affected by psoriatic arthritis (a condition affecting individuals with psoriasis, causing their joints to become inflamed and painful), gout arthritis (a condition usually affecting adult males wherein crystals of uric acid build up to form painful deposits in joints – most commonly in the big toe), cervical spondylosis (neck pain, often relating to trapped nerves, that is usually brought on by wear-and-tear and age), ankylosing spondylitis (a form mostly affecting the spines of young males which can lead to ankolysis), and smaller communities affected by juvenile arthritis (including juvenile idiopathic arthritis, the form of the condition affecting the greatest number of children) and lupus (a condition with a number of different forms itself, many of which affect the joints).

Awareness & Symptoms

Participants were asked which forms of arthritis they were familiar with. Over 80% were familiar with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and Gout. Fewer people were familiar with Fibromyaligia, and only a quarter were familiar with psoriatic arthritis. Virtually every participant was aware that arthritis can affect people of any age, and most displayed awareness of the most common symptoms or arthritis.

It also proved true that arthritis affects individuals of all ages. Though our survey found that the most common age bracket during which people had first started to notice symptoms was between the ages of 41 and 50 (27%), over half had first noticed symptoms aged 40 or under and over a quarter had been 30 or under. Over 10% had been 21 or under.

When asked about the symptoms they most associate with arthritis, joint pain, tenderness and stiffness was the most common reponse, being reported by 99% of respondents. 96% also associate the condition with both inflamation in and around the joints and restricted movement of the joints. Over associate arthritis with both warm, red skin over the affected joint and weakness and muscle wasting.

In their long-form responses, participants took the opportunity to highlight pain as one of the most troublesome and problematic symptoms of the condition. When asked what do you find is the biggest problem you experience on a day to day basis due to arthritis?, over 40% took the opportunity to reassert the painfulness of the condition, as well as the impact that pain has on the ability to perform day-to-day tasks. Walking, picking up objects, and sleeping were among the activities most commonly reported as being impaired by the arthritis-related pain of joint use. Some typical responses are as follows:

 

Coping with the pain! Sometimes it is unbearable.... Also as it is mainly in my wrists and hands, it can make doing anything hard!

Everything from getting up to moving about, pain in my joints and muscles and lack of strength of my muscles.

Being able to bend and join in with my children due to limited movement and pain.

The pain is a distraction from whatever I am doing.

The constant pain day in day out.

 

When asked in an ideal world, what kind of support do you feel you would most like to receive?, around 1/4 again took the opportunity to highlight pain as central to their symptoms, calling for support, medication, or treatment to manage, ease or relieve their pain:

 

Better understanding of the pain we suffer & pain relief that actually works and helps relieve the symptoms.

I have lots of pain killers and pain relievers and gel but some days are worse than others I would like to try new products to see if they would help.

Something that works! I'd love to be able to lead, what would be for me, a normal life - use crutches without pain. I would like pain medication or treatment that work for me, even for a short time.

Whatever treatment that would help me manage my pain and fatigue.

 

Clearly, these participants are showing a willingness, based in their own chronic pain and the limitations on capabilities that that pain brings about, to take opportunities to try treatments and to engage in procedures that could bring them closer to effective pain relief or pain management.

Treatments

While over 50% of respondents are currently receiving support from doctors, only 22% felt that there is ‘enough support offered by the medical profession’. When asked where they get their medication and treatments from, over 70% indicated that they obtained treatments from their doctors on prescription, and 40% reported using over-the counter-treatments.

When asked what methods participants of our survey have used to combat their symptoms, answers were diverse. The most common treatment method was tablets (46%). Creams were also popular (37%), as were hot water bottles, massages, and heat packs – all primarily based on treating the pain associated with arthritis.

When our members got a chance to tell us what they thought about these results, we were surprised to see how many arthritis sufferers had previously felt alone and unsupported when it came to their arthritis. At the same time, we were pleased to see that the survey and results had made some people feel less alone, as well as more informed:

  I think I can go to my rheumatologist and ask about help with specific things using the results. It's that feeling of not being alone!

It's just nice to know I'm neither unusual nor alone.

Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels like I do regarding the pain.

I think it helped when I read the results and realised how many people suffer from this debilitating disease.

It was interesting to see how common this problem is

It was good to know I wasn't alone. Not that I wish it on others, but I was surprised how many people have it.

 

 

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. Our evidence-based articles are certified by the Information Standard and our sources are available on request. The content is not, though, written by medical professionals and should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands, or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Next review: 2 February 2021