The Invisible Illness living behind the smile

Next week’s National Awareness Campaign is organised by the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and its aim is to largely raise awareness of the condition and to help change attitudes of those people who don’t really understand it.

A short film features mum and wife, Jane who goes about morning duties at home and her role as a teacher without any complaint, when in fact she is in incredible pain. Family and friends ask how she is and she tells them she’s fine, but in the film you’re shown just how difficult every day tasks are for Jane. She struggles to butter her toast and to hold her shopping bag, as her hands and arms are just too weak.

The film’s message is to encourage people with RA to admit when they’re not fine, and to speak to a doctor as early as possible.

What is RA

RA is an autoimmune disease and the second most common inflammatory arthritis in the UK with around 690,000 sufferers. Women are effected more than men, and usually it effects adults aged between 40-50 although teenagers can also develop early onset RA.

Unlike, Osteoarthritis which explained quite simply is wear and tear of the joints, RA causes inflammation in multiple joints and can cause pain and swelling. Explained again in a more simplified term, RA is when your immune systems stops attacking colds and viruses and instead, attacks your body’s own tissues, which causes inflammation of the joints. Swelling pain often disappears between 24-48 hours only to return months later in the same area and can even attack more joints. RA is a systemic disease, meaning that it doesn’t just affect joints. RA can affect a person’s whole system, including organs such as the lungs, heart and eyes.

According to experts those at risk are those people who smoke, eat red meats and drink a lot of coffee. RA is less common in people who have a high intake of Vitamin C and drink less alcohol. You may also inherit it from your parents, but this can vary from one person to another. Patients also find symptoms can become a lot more intense during the winter months and in damp conditions, but the weather does not cause RA itself.

Diet for RA

A healthy diet of oily fish such as mackerel, trout, salmon and tuna together with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables can help reduce inflammation. Cooking with olive oil instead of other oils and butters can also help.

What treatments are available for RA?

Although the disease is incurable, it is treatable and can be controlled to avoid the risk of joint damage, and the earlier patients can receive treatment the better.

Here at The Norfolk Clinic we offer a number of specialised treatments to help with RA such as the Alexander Treatment, Osteopath and Homeopath remedies. Please contact the Norfolk Clinic today for further information.

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