“Planning ahead and having the right support has helped me to thrive at university"

Three photos of Georgia smiling at the camera, and one of her shadow showing her walking stick.

Georgia Simmonds, 22, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis at the age of 17. The doctors assured her that her condition was in its early stages and that she wouldn’t have to worry about managing the pain for several years.

However, over the last three years, Georgia’s arthritis has declined rapidly, and she now relies on a walking stick to help her get around. Her ankles are worst affected, but she says the everyday challenges she faces with her condition have inspired her to attend university and pursue her dream of working in healthcare.

"Pacing myself, while keeping as active as possible, helps me to manage pain and fatigue."

"My ankles are always painful and make getting up in the morning extremely difficult. So far, I’ve not found any treatments that work for me. I often roll a tennis ball under my foot, to help with my range of movement.

"I’ve found that pacing myself, while keeping as active as possible, has helped me to manage the pain and fatigue.

"My life has certainly changed since my diagnosis. I used to be quite active but now I can’t go out without having to sit down every 20 minutes. It’s important that I plan my week in advance and rest at the weekend."

"My university has been incredibly supportive"

Georgia’s journey with arthritis has inspired her to work in healthcare. She says, "My course can be quite challenging – both physically and mentally – but it’s definitely rewarding and I’m really enjoying it so far."

"My university has been incredibly supportive, and they understand that I might need days off to rest and have put steps in place to ensure that I don’t fall behind on my studies.

"The social aspect of university can be really hard and sometimes I can’t go out because I can’t travel very far or even walk."

Georgia says that people often question why she has arthritis, as she is so young: "I often get funny looks when I’m out with my walking stick and it does make me feel embarrassed."

Get the help you need

Are you thinking about going to university but are worried about how you'll juggle university life while managing the pain of your arthritis?

You might find our tips on preparing for university and how to get the right support useful.