Since the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) was founded in 2001, one of their key aims has been to increase public understanding and awareness of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as distinct from other forms of arthritis.
Whilst they have come a long way, there still remains a significant challenge in clarifying the misconceptions based around RA.
In 2013, NRAS started a campaign called Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week (RAAW) to raise the awareness of the condition and eliminate these misconceptions by educating and informing friends, family, employers of those with RA and the general population about what rheumatoid arthritis truly is.
RAAW is typically held in June and has proven to have an amazing impact every year. Last year, it reached over half a million people with the #ReframeRA theme and this year lets make it reach even more people!
RA is very different to osteoarthritis (OA) in that it can strike at any age over 16. It is an autoimmune disease, which is a key differentiating factor to OA and means that in addition to joints, it can affect internal organs such as the heart, lungs, or eyes. There are very serious consequences to late diagnosis or lack of targeted appropriate treatment.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week 2019 will take place from 17th – 23rd June this year and the theme is #AnyoneAnyAge.
It’s the ‘auto-immunity’ element of rheumatoid arthritis as well as other inflammatory forms of arthritis that distinguishes the conditions from the most common form of arthritis – osteoarthritis, which is more associated with ‘wear and tear’ and ageing.
It is this reason why the focus this year is on RA being an autoimmune disease that can strike at any age.
Auto-immunity means a misdirected immune response that occurs when the immune system goes awry and attacks the body itself. Autoimmunity is present to some extent in everyone and is usually harmless. However, autoimmunity can cause a broad range of human illnesses, known collectively as autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis.
There will be plenty of fundraising events taking place to raise awareness and get support for people of all ages living with RA during Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week. To get involved, you can visit this website, and order a fundraising pack, like and share the page across social media, wear the merchandise, and talk to those around you to raise awareness.
If you struggle with RA, Dr Stephanie Barrett can help relieve some of the pain with physical therapy. If you would like to book an appointment with Dr Stephanie Barrett then please get in touch here.