It’s the simplest things that we take for granted, so imagine not being able to pick up or play with your child because you’re in excruciating pain. That’s the reality facing men who live with the debilitating pain of arthritis every day…
In the UK, eight million people live with osteoarthritis, and over 15,000 children and young adults live with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) meaning they were diagnosed before turning 16. Arthritis causes stiffness, inflammation, swelling and pain in joints and muscles, and can affect anyone at any age. Even routine tasks such as brushing your teeth, getting dressed or even sleeping comfortably can become extremely difficult.
The 2013 National Arthritis Survey was completed by 14,000 people who have been affected by arthritis. Out of the respondents who reported experiencing moderate or severe pain 50% or more struggled to sleep well, comfortably do the weekly grocery shop or keep up with the gardening. Almost two thirds struggled to exercise and three quarters had an impaired walking ability. 56% of sufferers struggle to get a good night’s sleep.
So how important is regular exercise to keep your joints supple? The answer is a simple one – it’s vital! Sticking to a healthy, well-balanced diet and regularly exercising will help maintain healthy joints, bones and muscles. Being overweight, even slightly, puts extra burden on your weight-bearing joints (back, hips, knees, ankles and feet. It’s a myth that exercising will cause further damage to your joints, after all, your body is designed to move, and not doing so is harmful to the tissues in and around your joints. Being active will increase the life of your joints, and help you to lead a pain-free life.
‘Easier said than done’, you may say, so it’s important to find something you can manage to do without added pain, and most importantly choose something you enjoy so you have the incentive to do it regularly. Swimming, walking, cycling and running have all been recommended and shown to be beneficial in reducing overall risk of pain, disability and can help reduce the risk of developing the disease in the first place, relieve existing symptoms and help prevent further deterioration.
Arthritis Research UK is working every day to help the one in six people living with the invisible pain of arthritis.