The real face of arthritis

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Arthritis is the single biggest cause of disability in Ireland. It affects almost 1 million people, damaging joints, causing severe pain, stiffness, immobility and deformity.

Arthritis does not discriminate. It is a disease that can affect anyone from the newborn right through to the elderly.

Arthritis takes away people’s dignity by preventing them from doing basic, everyday tasks – a parent, for instance, who can no longer pick up their child; a father unable to hold down a job; a child unable to play with their friends. That is the reality of arthritis.

Not surprisingly, therefore, arthritis can cause serious levels of depression and social isolation. According to research conducted by Arthritis Ireland, 3 in 10 people with arthritis say they are sad and depressed, and 4 in 10 admit that they sometimes find it hard to keep going and that their arthritis is a constant worry for them.

Unfortunately, a large proportion of people living with arthritis also have at least one other disease or condition. For example, three in ten people (29%) with arthritis will also have heart disease.

A similar number might also suffer from diabetes (32%). There are also links with depression (22%), high cholesterol (20%), high blood pressure (19%) and many others.

The facts are stark.

The figures are equally stark:

  • Arthritis accounts for 1 in 3 GP visits.
  • 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 55.
  • Arthritis affects more than 1,200 Irish children under 16.
  • By the year 2030, 1 in 4 Irish people aged 18 and older will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and a range of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia and juvenile arthritis.

No cure exists for any form of arthritis.


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