Staff at King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton are to spread the word about a common, but little-known, disease as part of a special campaign next week.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an auto-immune disease where the body’s natural defences cause inflammation and damage to the joints.
All next week, physiotherapist Beth Thomas and her team of consultants, doctors, nurses and occupational therapists will be manning an information stand at the hospital as part of Rheumatoid Awareness Week.
Beth said: “The theme for the week is #AnyoneAnyAge because RA can strike at any age from 16 upwards.
“Currently, 400,000 people across the UK have the condition which is the equivalent of the population of Bristol.
“Early diagnosis is essential for the best outcome, and consultants have developed this S Factor test for potential sufferers:
“STIFFNESS -- early-morning joint stiffness that lasts for more than 30 minutes;
“SWELLING -- persistent swelling of one joint or more, especially joints in the hand.
“AND SQUEEZING -- pain on squeezing the joints.
“Anyone experiencing such symptoms should book an urgent appointment with their GP. Although there is no cure, RA can generally be controlled by modern drugs treatments.”
Even when well-managed, RA patients can experience flare-ups when the disease suddeenly becomes more severe for a short while, often resulting in overwhelming fatigue.
For about half of patients, the available drugs eventually stop working.