Arthritis is one of the biggest public health issues facing the UK. Yet it is all too often passed off as being an inevitable or even an acceptable part of getting older. This perception is wrong, completely underestimates the condition and means that people with arthritis do not get the support and help they need to live well.
Over 10 million people of all ages in the UK are living with arthritis. For people who have arthritis, just getting through the day is difficult.
Imagine finding it painful to get out of bed, dress yourself or use public transport. Imagine if you had a condition which affected your ability to do your job, socialise with friends or play with your own children or grandchildren. That is the reality of living arthritis. And, sadly, this in turn can lead to loneliness, depression and financial difficulty. It is no wonder that the majority of people (88%) describe it as a debilitating and life-restricting condition.
Arthritis also has a significant, but hidden, impact on wider society. Whether it's an employer who loses out on the skills of an employee who has the condition; a child who misses out on being looked after by their parents or grandparents; or the strain on the NHS's resources, the impact of arthritis is being felt across the whole of society.
But this significant and often devastating impact of arthritis is not matched by societal awareness, understanding or investment. Indeed, almost four out of five (77%) people with arthritis don't think that society understands what it's like to live with the condition.
At Arthritis Research UK, we are working to reveal the true impact of arthritis. We want more people to know that, either directly or indirectly, arthritis impacts everyone in the UK.
Just this week, we have launched The Nation's Joint Problem report which reveals the current and future impact of two major forms of the condition, osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), on our society. Our findings include:
- Working days lost due to OA and RA will increase from 25.1 million today to 25.9 million by 2030, equating to an annual £3.43 billion productivity hit to the economy
- Impact on the health service: The estimated cost to the NHS and the wider healthcare system, of OA and RA, currently stands at £10.2 billion in 2017. Over the course of the next decade, an estimated £118.6 billion will be spent
- Impact on individuals: One-in-six people currently have OA or RA, and this is predicted to rise to one-in-five by 2050; and
- Impact on families: More than three-quarters (76%) of people with all types of arthritis say that their family and social lives are compromised by the condition, and over half (53%) feel they are a nuisance to their families.
Further, this weekend we will be launching the charity's first major advertising campaign, including TV, out of home and print.
We have to change the public's perceptions of arthritis. We believe that, if society acknowledges the problem that arthritis poses for the UK, the needs of people living with the condition will start to be addressed - be that in the workplace, the GP surgery, public spaces or even in their home.
To see our advert and find out more about our campaign, visit: http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/jointproblem
To hear from people with arthritis about how the condition affects them and the people around them, please watch this short video: