During the month of May, people around the country have been doing their part to raise awareness and sharing their experiences for National Arthritis month.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common forms of arthritis in the UK, with people of all ages being diagnosed with the illness.
With arthritis affecting more than 10 million people in the UK alone, is important to recognise the struggles someone with arthritis will face day to day.
Arthritis sufferers will experience symptoms which mainly affect joints, resulting in pain, stiffness and inflammation. The most common areas to be affected by arthritis are the hands, hips, knees and spine, with joints becoming so stiff that it can restrict the use of these joints and later even affecting mobility.
In our October talkhealth survey of the month, we looked at the impact that arthritis has on sufferers day to day. When given the chance to write in full about their symptoms, over 40% of people stated that pain was the biggest problem that they had to face, with responses such as, “The pain is a distraction from whatever I am doing.”
With so many people struggling to carry out day to day tasks without being in chronic pain, it can be demotivating and sometimes isolating if you do not have anyone to confide in.
Here are a number of things you can do which should hopefully alleviate some of your symptoms and ultimately improve your quality of life:
Exercise – although your pain may make you reluctant to going out and exercising, it is essential for arthritis sufferers to be physically active. Light exercise such as walking is a great way to increase the motion in your joints while also building up muscle. Not only is walking great for the health of your joints, it is also a great way to maintain a healthy weight, which in turn will put less strain on your joints.
Healthy eating – further to exercise, it is important to maintain a healthy diet. Those who are overweight tend to experience more pain in their joints due to the excessive strain and pressure they are placing on their joints. A well rounded diet full of fruit and veg, healthy carbs, and plenty of meat and fish can maintain a healthy weight and give you more energy.
Joint care – to make sure you don’t cause any further damage to your joints than is absolutely necessary, do what you can to avoid using certain joints and preserve their wellbeing. Use different stronger joints or a number of joints where you can to alleviate some of the strain from your problematic areas. Although it may be tempting to carry out tasks that you used to be able to do with ease, this could cause pain and discomfort while damaging your joints further. Remember to rest and don’t be afraid to ask for help if needed.
Talk it out – although you may not know anyone personally who is going through the same struggles as you, you do not have to suffer in silence. If your friends and family do not know about the struggles you are facing, speak to them honestly about what you’re going through. Support from those nearest and dearest to you can be a big help when you’re struggling, and by knowing what you are going through they can lend you more support when you need it most.
If you wish to share stories of your own experiences with arthritis, or if you have any helpful tips or advice on how to live well with arthritis, please get involved in our talkarthritis forum and join in the conversation with our growing community.
You can find our talkarthritis forum here.