NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group are supporting Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Awareness Week 2021, which takes place between 13 and 18 September, to raise awareness of the condition and the impact on sufferers and their families.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. The symptoms usually affect the hands, feet and wrists, and often develop gradually over several weeks, but some cases can progress quickly over a number of days.
The symptoms vary from person to person. They can come and go, and may change over time. You may occasionally experience flare ups when your condition deteriorates and your symptoms become more severe.
It’s not clear what triggers this problem with the immune system, although you’re at an increased risk if:
- you are a woman
- you have a family history of rheumatoid arthritis
- you smoke
Anyone who feels that they have any of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis should contact their GP practice for an appointment so they can try to identify the underlying cause. Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis quickly is important because early treatment can help stop the condition getting worse and reduce the risk of further problems such as joint damage.
Unfortunately there’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment enables many people with rheumatoid arthritis to have periods of months or even years between flare ups. This can help them to lead full lives and continue regular employment. There are range of treatments which include:
- medication that is taken in the long-term to relieve symptoms and slow the progress of the condition
- supportive treatments, such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy, to help keep you mobile and find ways around any problems you have with daily activities
- surgery to correct any joint problems that develop
Find out more at Rheumatoid arthritis – NHS (www.nhs.uk)