'They say I’m too young to have arthritis...they don’t think it’s real.'
As part of our nationwide campaign to create a better environment for the 10 million people with arthritis in the UK, we’ve published our new report, Defying Arthritis at Every Age.
This report reveals the real impact of arthritis on everyday life and highlights why we need to speak out and share our experiences to help to improve society’s awareness and understanding of how arthritis shapes people’s lives. From our work, our relationships, independence and the personal challenges of feeling vulnerable, asking for help and coming to terms with the changing nature of the condition, arthritis affects every aspect of life.
Key findings from the report revealed:
- Almost half (44%) of people with arthritis have difficulty getting around independently, and over a third (39%) actively avoid going out on their own.
- Over a third (38%) had to give up work because of their condition, and the same number had to reduce their working hours. A third (33%) have had to reconsider the career they wanted to pursue.
- Three quarters of people affected (76%) say that their family and social lives are compromised by the condition. 60% say they find it harder to take part in events with family and friends, while almost half (47%) say they’ve missed out on special occasions.
- Almost half (43%) worry about being physically intimate as a result of their arthritis, while close to a third (31%) say their friendships or relationships are left strained because of it.
The importance of conversations
The report identifies the critical role of conversations in making the condition more visible and changing the status quo. A third (33%) of people with arthritis say talking about their condition reduces their anxiety around daily activities. Yet almost half (43%) admit they’ve hidden their pain from a friend, family member or colleague.
“Before the onset of my osteoarthritis, I had no idea what a debilitating condition it is. To go from being active and independent to housebound and in constant pain made me feel very low. I didn’t feel like myself at all.” Robert (age 64), living with osteoarthritis
“My body hurts a lot and I can’t join in with my friends…I did a presentation at school on my arthritis. After that people made fun of me less. I feel a bit happier in school now because my teacher knows about my arthritis and helps me.“ George (age 10), living with juvenile idiopathic arthritis
Our Versus Arthritis action plan
Our action plan sets out the changes urgently needed across all areas of society to increase public awareness and help people with the condition live better. These include:
- In healthcare: People with arthritis should be offered personalised care and support; one size doesn’t fit all.
- In research: The investment and participation levels in research into arthritis and related conditions need to reflect the scale of their impact on society.
- In support: People with arthritis need to have access to quality information and the means to self-manage.
- In public spaces: The environments we live in – our homes, workplaces and public spaces – must be designed inclusively, so that people living with arthritis aren’t disconnected from society and the day-to-day activities we all take for granted.
We’re calling on everyone to publicly declare themselves Versus Arthritis: either publicly on social media or privately by having a conversation with someone who has the condition to better understand what it’s like.
Liam O’Toole, CEO of Versus Arthritis, “Today, we’re calling on everyone to push back against arthritis and join a national conversation to make this invisible condition visible. We want more people talking about arthritis more frequently and more loudly, so it’s no longer ignored and no one has to live with it alone.”
Taking a small action today can have a big impact. Just by sharing your name, or story, you’re showing you’re no longer accepting arthritis being invisible to those who don’t have it.