Rheumatoid Arthritis Week 2021

Posted on: 13/09/2021

Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week 2021 takes place between September 13th and 19th and is an annual event to raise awareness of the condition and its impact on sufferers and their families.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. The condition usually affects the hands, feet and wrists.

About 1% of the population in the UK has RA – more than 400,000 people in the UK. It affects more women than men, roughly two to three times as many women. The most common age for people to develop RA is between 40 and 60, or a bit older for men. However, people can get it at any age, even from the age of 14 when it’s ‘early onset’ RA. There are other forms of inflammatory arthritis, but RA is the most common.

If RA is not treated or is inadequately treated, it can cause irreversible damage to joints and lead to disability – and this used to happen often. Although there is no cure, most people diagnosed today can expect to lead pretty full and active lives once the disease is under control.

What are the symptoms?

The important signs and symptoms to be aware of are:

  • pain, swelling and possibly redness around your joints.  Hands and feet are often affected first, though RA can start in any joint
  • stiffness in your joints when you get up in the morning or after sitting for a while, which lasts for more than 30 minutes and has no other obvious cause
  • fatigue that’s more than just normal tiredness

If you have any of these symptoms, go and see your GP. The sooner RA is diagnosed and treated, the better the long-term outcomes are likely to be.

What causes RA? 

Several things may increase your risk of developing RA, including:

  • your genes – there's some evidence that rheumatoid arthritis can run in families, although the risk of inheriting it is thought to be low as genes are only thought to play a small role in the condition
  • hormones – rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than men, which may be because of the effects of the hormone oestrogen, although this link has not been proven
  • smoking – some evidence suggests that people who smoke have an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis

Treating RA

There's no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment enable many people with the condition to have periods of months or even years between flares. This can help them to lead full lives and continue regular employment.

The main treatment options include:

  • medicine that is taken 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 manage any problems you have with daily activities
  • surgery to correct any joint problems that develop

How Progress Lifeline can help

Those with RA could have an increased risk of falling due to impaired muscle strength, postural instability, fatigue, joint pain, and reduced functioning. The falls also lead to an increased risk of hip fractures due to disease-related reduced bone mass.

At Progress Lifeline, we provide products and services designed to offer peace of mind and reassurance. Our falls reassurance package includes a falls detector, which will automatically send an alert to our 24/7 Alarm Response Centre when it senses a fall - no need to press a button or reach for a phone.

Alternatively, you can use a standard personal lifeline alarm which, by pressing a button on a pendant or wristband, will alert our 24/7 Alarm Response Centre, which will get help on its way to you immediately.

In addition, if you are worried about falling outside of the home, we also offer a device called the Footprint GPS alarm and falls detector. The device has an SOS button which can be pressed to contact our Alarm Response Centre and get you the help you need. The device acts as a two-way communication, meaning our Alarm Response Centre can speak to you directly through the device.

The falls detector part alerts us if you fall and we can speak to you to check you are ok or if you need help.

If you have any of the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, speak to your GP as soon as possible.