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What is Rheumatoid Arthritis, do you know?

This year’s theme for Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week (June 17-23) is #AnyoneAnyAge. The understanding of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) has increased over the years however there are still misconceptions which people associate with the disease.

Dr Preeti Shukla, Clinical Lead at NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

“Rheumatoid arthritis is very different to osteoarthritis and it can strike at any age over 16. The key difference between osteoarthritis is that it is an auto-immune disease, which means that in addition to joints, it can affect internal organs such as the heart, lungs and eyes. There are very serious consequences to late diagnosis and therefore early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can prove to be crucial.”

As well as problems affecting the joints (pain, stiffness, swelling warmth and redness) some people with rheumatoid arthritis experience a range of more general symptoms, such as:

  • tiredness and a lack of energy
  • a high temperature (fever)
  • sweating
  • a poor appetite
  • weight loss

Dr Shukla added:

“Many people confuse rheumatoid arthritis with osteoarthritis and think it is an old person’s disease, when in fact it can affect anyone at any age above the age of 16. You could be a young doctor, a young and fit athlete or a student. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis don’t look ill and you cannot tell they have this just by looking at them.

“Although there's no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, early treatment and support (including lifestyle changes, medication, supportive treatments and surgery) can reduce the risk of joint damage and limit the impact of the condition.”

For more information, please visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/