National Arthritis Week 2017
National Arthritis Week asks people to take action if concerned about joint pain or stiffness
If you have concerns over joint or muscle pain, are experiencing stiffness or exhaustion seek medical advice is the message of National Arthritis Week, which commences on Monday 9 October.
Early diagnosis and timely access to treatment are key to preventing further damage from rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs), including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus and gout. The theme of the week is “Don’t Delay, Connect Today”.
One million people are living with arthritis in Ireland, affecting men and women of all ages, including children and babies. Arthritis is the largest cause of disability in Ireland, and costs the Exchequer €700 million per annum in lost working days and early retirements. About 165,000 people with arthritis in Ireland are under the age of 55.
Gráinne O’Leary, Head of Services at Arthritis Ireland, said: “Early diagnosis is key to preventing further damage, but arthritis often receives delayed or no diagnosis. If not treated appropriately, daily activities are affected – reducing people’s quality of life and impacting on their physical abilities. Make sure you speak to your doctor if you have any concerns,” she stated.
She continued: “At Arthritis Ireland we have developed a suite of self-management programmes to give people the skills and tools to live with their diagnosis daily. We know from engaging with our community that there is a need for greater services around the country to assist those with arthritis to live a normal, active life and to empower them to work with their health care professionals to manage their condition.”
Arthritis Ireland has 19 branches around the country which organise a wide range of activities, including walking groups, water therapy, mindfulness and information sessions.
Tim O’Sullivan (65) from Cork, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) six years ago. He said that his arthritis “came on gradually with the stiffening of the joints and eventually it affected my ankles and I sought medical help. It had a huge impact on my life – I had to give up work eventually. The fear of the unknown is one the hardest aspects of RA and it concerns me not knowing how much it will advance in the future.
“Keeping to a good physical exercise programme is very important to me, both physically and emotionally. My greatest fear is the increased risk of infection due to the RA medication. However, I am very fortunate to have a good medical team and consider myself lucky that I’m responding to the medication at present. Overall, I have found that with the supports that are available, a self-management programme and my medication regime, I have regained a considerable degree of control over my life,” Mr Sullivan said.
Arthritis Ireland is organising an information evening about rheumatoid arthritis, which will take place in Cork on Tuesday 10 October. The organisation’s annual research lecture will take place in Trinity College Dublin on Saturday 14 October. It will feature contributions from Prof. Gerry Wilson (UCD), Prof. Ursula Fearon (TCD) and Dr Charlene Foley (UCD) talking about their current research in rheumatology.
World Arthritis Day (WAD) is recognised internationally on 12 October, and forms part of the wider arthritis week campaign.