Get help Newly diagnosed Newly diagnosed Arthritis Ireland Helpline Phone: 1890 252 846/01-6618188 Email: [email protected] Being diagnosed with arthritis can be a scary and confusing time for people. You will most likely have many questions about your condition and how it will affect you. You may not be sure what you want, or more importantly need, to know about arthritis, or even feel ready to ask about these things. Try not to be overwhelmed by the vast array of information that is available to you on this website and all the other support structures that are in place. Instead, be reassured that there is plenty of support out there and, when you are ready to ask your questions, you'll know where to go to find some answers. We will endeavour to answer all your questions such as; - What is arthritis? - How did I get it? - How will it be treated? - Will I get better? - Who will be involved in my care? - What can I do to help myself? - What will the future hold for me? Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that causes pain and immobility, ranging from mild to severe. In Ireland around 915,000 people, including 1 in every 1,200 children, are living with arthritis, making it the single biggest cause of disability. There are over 100 types of arthritis but the most common forms are osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (also known as rheumatic arthritis) and fibromyalgia. Although many symptoms of arthritis are shared across the conditions, like pain, fatigue and inflammation, there are many unique to each disease too. People of all ages are living with arthritis, not just the elderly - the average age of diagnosis for people with RA is 35. No arthritis cure exists at present and it is not known what causes it. However, there are many medical and non-medical arthritis treatments available that can help you to control your arthritis symptoms. While pain, stiffness and swelling in your joints may indicate something as innocent as a slight strain, it could also be an early sign of arthritis. If you experience any prolonged feelings of pain or inflammation in your joint then it is important that you visit your GP who will be able to test for arthritis. Things to remember... Being diagnosed with arthritis can be a very intimidating experience, especially if you don't know where to turn for help. Initial feelings of fear and anger are a completely normal first reaction but, by taking the right steps, a diagnosis of arthritis does not have to alter your quality of life. Ring - If you are looking for confidential support and information from people who have experienced an arthritis diagnosis first hand you should contact the Arthritis Ireland helpline on 1890 252 846/01-6618188. Learn - Learning about your condition should help you to put your mind at ease, but take care that what you read comes from a reputable source. Arthritis Ireland's information on arthritis types can be a good place to start. Partnership with health professionals - Once you have been diagnosed prompt action will help you to avoid further damage to your joints so it's important that you work in partnership with your doctor to put together a treatment plan that best suits you. Self Management - Sign up to one of our Living Well with Arthritis self-management programmes where you will learn the simple steps that make a big difference to people with arthritis. Talk: Chatting to friends and family, but also to other people who have arthritis, can be a big comfort. A great way to meet people with arthritis is the Arthritis Ireland branch in your area or by signing up for the Living Well with Arthritis course. Help yourself - However arthritis affects you, there is always something that can be done. As well as your medical treatment, a healthy diet and regular exercise are an essential part of controlling arthritis symptoms. Simple tips to help you get the most out of your GP visit: Be prepared: Before your appointment, think of ways to describe your symptoms, write down your questions and any changes in your condition. Be confident: Don't be afraid to ask questions. If something is confusing then repeat it back to the doctor and ask him/her to explain more clearly. Two heads are better than one: Bringing a family member or friend will help you relax and remember to ask the right questions.