World Arthritis Day 2021

11 October 2021

Let's make arthritis impossible to ignore

The last few years have been challenging for all of us. We know that many people are having a tough time right now and that thousands of you are waiting in pain for surgery.

But you are not alone. The Versus Arthritis community is here for you.

That’s why this World Arthritis Day (12 October 2021) we are calling on everyone in our community to demand action from UK politicians for people waiting for surgery.

Write to your MP today

Raising our voices together

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been working together with people with arthritis to make sure that our voices are impossible to ignore.

The governments recent announcement of more funding for the NHS to tackle the essential surgery backlog is welcome, but experts have warned that it’s going to take a long time to bring waiting lists down.

That’s why we’re campaigning to make sure everyone waiting has access to support from local services to help manage their pain, look after their mental health and stay well for their operation.

You’ve sent strength to those waiting in pain for surgery

Across our community, many of you have been sending messages of support and sharing your experiences with each other.

On our online community, many of you shared your stories around waiting times and the community responded with kindness and advice.

Thank you. Nice to find a community that shares a problem and tries to help others with same/similar problems. Pain really gets you down when the painkillers hardly touch you… Will update you on how I get on with the surgeon.”

Thanks for your replies. I feel we are all in the same boat so have to put up with it. My pain relief has increased again and my mental health is now taking a bit of a battering.”

I have sympathy with anyone waiting for joint replacement and other hospital procedures. Pain is crippling as I know all too well but as we used to say in the forces "Pain is the body's way of saying you are alive!"

We’re pushing for change

This World Arthritis Day we are demanding action from UK politicians. We need those in power to understand the pain of arthritis and the impact of waiting for treatment is impossible to ignore.

We know ‘elective’ surgery is not a choice; a joint replacement is an essential planned operation that can give people their lives back.

We’re calling for urgent and decisive government action to make sure that people with arthritis waiting for surgery get vital support right now. We also need a commitment from governments that people with arthritis will start to see results from the money allocated to tackling surgery backlogs.

Loraine’s message of strength

55-year old Loraine has osteoarthritis and was added to the waiting list for two knee replacements in November 2019. The first, originally scheduled for April 2020, took place in August 2020, and she had the second in August 2021.

Loraine said: “It’s so amazing to have two new knees. I'm a full-time carer for my husband who is very ill, and the pain has really impacted what I can do for him. My consultant told me it's so rewarding when a replacement is successful and you can see and know it's given someone a new lease of life.”

My message to anyone waiting for joint replacement surgery: try to stay strong by using Versus Arthritis, family & friends for support. Get involved with campaigning - it helps to focus your mind & empowers you. Keep reminding your consultant that you’re waiting and don’t give up hope. You'll be rewarded with a new joint you can love!

The impact of waiting

As waiting lists spiral to record level, people with arthritis waiting for this life-transforming surgery have told us they feel ignored, invisible and forgotten.

Loraine told us: “While you wait for a joint replacement you're still having to cope with the pain. After my first operation was cancelled in March 2020, I didn't know how to react. As the months went by, the uncertainty grew. Am I still on the waiting list? Do I need to check?

It’s so important that hospitals and local services offer proper support to people waiting for surgery, especially clear communication. The only support I had other than my hubby, family and close friends was Versus Arthritis. If it hadn't been for Versus Arthritis I really would have fallen apart.”

Together, we are Versus Arthritis

Our community is here to support every single person affected by arthritis – and when we raise our voices together, we make arthritis impossible to ignore.

Loraine said: “It has been great to be involved in campaigning with the Versus Arthritis community. It’s been so positive & much needed. During the past two years it's given me a focus which helped to take my mind off my own situation. It meant I looked at the bigger picture and the other people needing support, including my own mum. This summer, I felt so proud go to Westminster with our petition calling for a plan to bring down waiting times, on behalf of more than 46,000 people who signed."

Get involved

Help support more people like Loraine by demanding more this World Arthritis Day. Tell your MP or politicians in the devolved parliaments they must call on government to take urgent and decisive action to ensure no one waiting for surgery feels abandoned.

Join the conversation

We know the past couple of years have been tough and we want to remind you there’s an amazing community here to support you.

Look out for supportive messages from our social media community on World Arthritis Day and take part by sharing your own using the hashtags #WorldArthritisDay and #WeAreVersusArthritis.

We’re here whenever you need us.

If you need a little strength today, our community is here for you.

Managing your pain at home

If you are looking for ways to help manage your pain, take a look at our exercises for healthy joints resources. Read our tips on ways to manage your pain while waiting for surgery.