Information evening on rheumatoid arthritis to be held in Dublin

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An information evening on living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) will be held in Dublin on Monday 23 October. The event is organised by Arthritis Ireland and supported by MSD Ireland.

Dr Barry O’Shea, consultant rheumatologist at St James’s Hospital, will deliver the talk, which will be followed by a Q&A session.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects some 45,000 people in Ireland, the majority of which (70%) are women. RA can cause a range of symptoms, including pain and swelling in the joints, particularly those in the hands, feet and knees. While it is more likely that someone will develop rheumatoid arthritis in their middle years – between 30 and 50 – children, young adults and older people can also get it.

Gráinne O’Leary, acting CEO and head of services at Arthritis Ireland, said that: “The purpose of the information evening is to raise awareness and understanding around rheumatoid arthritis. We hope that it will be of benefit to people who are looking for expert information, regardless of whether they are newly diagnosed, living with the condition for years, or indeed a family member of someone living with RA. Rheumatoid arthritis can have a considerable impact on people’s quality of life, particularly in relation to their career, relationships, lifestyle and mental health. These are the invisible effects of living with the disease.”

Sinead Tuite, Patient Programmes Support Manager, MSD Ireland commented: “We are delighted to support this very beneficial evening as part of our on-going partnership with Arthritis Ireland. We know from experience that timely, expert information can be hugely helpful to support patients affected by this condition. We are therefore very hopeful that this talk will provide a host of information which will add real value not only to patients but to their families.”

Darragh Burke (44) is a former rugby player with Naas RFC and a Wicklow inter-county footballer. He was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 18 years ago. Having trained as a carpenter/joiner, he was unable to continue in that career.

“When I was diagnosed, I thought that rheumatoid arthritis was a condition that only old people got. I became like a 100-year-old man, unable to dress myself. I couldn’t bend down and all my joints were affected – from my little toe to my jaw. I tried everything – healers, exercise, medication – and had my hips replaced in 2009 and 2011.

“Living with arthritis is a tough one, with ups and downs. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I might have arthritis, but arthritis doesn’t have me,” he concluded.

Dr Barry O’Shea is a consultant rheumatologist at St James’s Hospital. Prior to this he was a research fellow at University of Toronto and Toronto Western Hospital, Canada from 2005-2009. He undertook his medical studies at UCD, and completed his specialist training in rheumatology from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

Arthritis affects close to one million people in Ireland and accounts for one-third of all GP visits. There are over 100 different types of the disease and these can affect people of all ages from babies and toddlers right through to those in their adult years. Arthritis, as part of the musculoskeletal group of diseases (MSDs), costs the exchequer more than €700m every year in lost working hours and forced retirements. About 165,000 (18%) people with arthritis in Ireland are under the age of 55.

Arthritis Ireland’s information evening, ‘Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis’ will be held in the Hilton Hotel, Charlemont Place, Dublin 2 at 7pm on Monday 23 October. To register for the event, visit the web. The information evening is supported by MSD Ireland.

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