“My patients are an inspiration to me. They can and have inspired others.”

26 October 2020
GP Asim giving a talk to a group and at work in the surgery.

Asim has worked as a General Practitioner (GP) for just over 14 years and as a GP specialising in pain management for 10 years.

Here he shares his experiences of working with patients with arthritis and tells us why education is key to ensuring people have the strength to live better with arthritis.

“Everyone has their own story, and everyone is affected differently by arthritis.”

In my clinics I can review a teenager with juvenile arthritis who’s struggling in school at the start of the clinic and by the end, it could be an octogenarian who is finding it hard to leave their house.

The most common conditions I see by far are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. I also see lots of chronic pain.

“Chronic pain is very common and unfortunately the numbers are increasing.”

Everyone seems to have their own coping mechanisms and strategies and what works for one may not work for another.

I strongly believe that a healthcare professionals' greatest assets are the people who experience pain every day. They are the experts, and we should be learning from and using their experiences.

“People have different levels of understanding of their conditions.”

I need to adapt the information that I provide. I work with different populations including a large Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) population. I use my language and my own cultural experiences to help people understand their condition.

I use resources to help people understand their condition, for example, the information on the Versus Arthritis website. I think Versus Arthritis have some of the best resources available to pain and musculoskeletal healthcare professionals.

My physiotherapy colleagues are an excellent resource for people. They can usually spend a little longer examining and explaining.

Recently, I’ve also been directing people to online applications such as the Good Boost app. These exercise apps are actively promoted by the NHS and they allow users to pace themselves and become comfortable in their own abilities.

“Education empowers people.”

It is my experience that once people with arthritis and pain have knowledge about their condition, they are then more likely to gain the confidence, motivation and the skills to help themselves more effectively.

This information is then often shared with other members of their family, neighbours, network and community.

I initiated a local pain support group last year. This was to help people who had persistent pain. They’ve managed to continue working with each other even in the current difficult circumstances. They have helped each other to achieve their goals. I help with advice and provide guidance on topics like pacing and flares of pain.

“My patients are an inspiration to me. They can and have inspired others.”

Being in pain is exhausting. Strength can be difficult to muster and maintain. You will have good and bad days. You should know that there are people like you who have been through a similar journey and come out the other side. Together, stronger, we can do this.

It takes strength to live with arthritis

We all need a little strength sometimes. The strength to speak about your experiences and ask for help.

If you agree it takes strength to live with arthritis - add your name now.

Get the support you need