Arthritis Research UK campaign calls for patient experiences to shape research.
By Dr Liam O'Toole, Arthritis Research UK CEO
It can be easy to simply associate arthritis with ageing, an inevitable part of our physical decline. Yet 10 million people in the UK are affected - in fact, it's the biggest cause of pain and disability in this country and can affect people of all ages.
On our Facebook page people with arthritis often share their frustrations about living with an 'invisible' health condition - as experiences and pain levels vary from person to person and from day to day, many simply find it easier to suffer in silence, despite its huge impact on everyday life.
This is National Arthritis Week (12-18 October) and we're calling on people with joint pain and arthritis to speak out and share their experiences with us online,
We've created a bespoke 'sharing space', where people can share their day-to-day triumphs as well as challenges, read others' experiences and, importantly, shape the pain and fatigue research projects we'll fund in 2016.
Anna is a former nurse in her 50s who is supporting the campaign. She believes many of her musculoskeletal problems stem from the physical nature of her career. She has encountered lower back pain, spinal degeneration, a total hip replacement and an operation to remove an arthritic bone at the base of her thumb. She lives in constant pain and has been affected by depression. She explains,
"I've had multiple surgeries and try to remain positive but at times it's pretty difficult. Constant fatigue and difficulties with even everyday activities like climbing stairs have had a massive impact, and when I could no longer work because of my condition I felt like I had been put on the scrap heap.
With the help of my family and a very good GP my condition seems to be stable at the moment. I take a number of medications, and physiotherapy, pilates and swimming make a big difference to my pain levels.
Over the years I've battled many demons including anxiety and depression and feel like I've come out of a very dark tunnel with a different outlook on life. I may have osteoarthritis, but I am determined not to let it rule or ruin my life."
If you, or someone you know, are affected by the pain of arthritis please do share your story with us. We believe we can end the pain of arthritis, but we need your help.