Don’t let arthritis become a pain this National Arthritis Week
14th October 2015
National Arthritis WeekMonday 12 October happened to be both World Arthritis Day and the first day of National Arthritis Week 2015, which will be running until Sunday 18 October. The awareness week is organised by the charity Arthritis Research UK and is used as an effective way to highlight the huge day-to-day impact that arthritis has for those with it, in addition to providing their friends and family, information to successfully manage the condition. As a long-term provider of a wide range of treatments for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis such as brufen (ibuprofen), celebrex (celecoxib), diclofenac, naproxen, etc., at Medical Specialists® Pharmacy we are fully aware and sympathetic to arthritis sufferers; the pain associated with the condition can be excruciating, constant and cause otherwise ‘simple’ tasks in life, difficult to perform. However, Arthritis Research UK want people to use National Arthritis Week as an opportunity to share their story to help boost awareness about what exactly it is like to live with the invisible pain of arthritis, in the hope that one day, people will be able to enjoy a life without pain. In the UK alone, there are an estimated 10 million people with arthritis. There are many different types of arthritis (such as ankylosing spondylitis, gout, lupus, etc.), but the two most common types of arthritis by far are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis afflicts 8 million people in the UK, making it the most common form of the condition. It is most prevalent in people over the age of 50 years of age, but can occur in younger people, following injury or another joint-related condition. The joints that are most commonly affected are those in the hands, hips, knees and spine. Movement can prove difficult as osteoarthritis begins to impact the smooth cartilage lining of the join resulting in pain and stiffness. The cartilage can then thin, and tissues within the joint may become more active, causing swelling and the development of small bony spurs, called osteophytes. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage (connective tissue) between bones withers away, causing the bones to rub against one another. Rheumatoid arthritis Over 400,000 people are believed to suffer with rheumatoid arthritis in the UK. The condition tends to arise when a person is between the ages of 40 and 50, with women three times more likely to have it. Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis differ due to the fact rheumatoid arthritis arises as the body's immune system impacts the affected joints, resulting in the pain and swelling. The first area often affected is the outer covering (synovium) of the joint, before spreading across the joint, with the shape of the joint altered as the swelling increases. The bone and cartilage are then eroded. Those suffering with rheumatoid arthritis are also susceptible to other problems related to tissues and organs. It is not just in Britain that the problem is prevalent though - arthritis and other types of musculoskeletal pain are in fact common, global problems that can impact any person irrespective of age (children can develop arthritis), sex, ethnicity or job. Arthritis Research UK provide the funding for around 20 grants that have a combined value of about £6 million, dedicated to the research into understanding the cause of pain and attempting to develop new therapies and drugs to treat it. Symptoms of arthritis The symptoms of arthritis that people will experience can vary according to the specific type of arthritis he or she has, so therefore it is crucial to receive an accurate diagnosis if you suffer with one or more of the following symptoms:
  •     Difficult moving a joint.
  •     Fatigue.
  •     Inflammation in and around the joints.
  •     Joint pain, tenderness and stiffness.
  •     Muscle weakness.
  •     Poor sleep.
  •     Warm, red skin over the affected joint.
  •     Weight loss.
Treatment of arthritis Unfortunately, there is no definitive/outright cure for arthritis, however health experts often recommend a good intake of omega 3 fats as they can prevent or subside symptoms, as the fats help to reduce inflammation. Moreover, Vitamin D – also known as “the sunshine vitamin” - can help to prevent rheumatoid arthritis. Excellent Vitamin D-containing foods include fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna. In addition, there are many arthritis treatments provided by Medical Specialists® that can be taken to slow down the condition. For osteoarthritis, painkillers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, celebrex (celecoxib), diclofenac and brufen (ibuprofen), and corticosteroids, are usually prescribed. However, revolutionary osteoarthritis treatment flexiseq gel has also proved highly popular with patients of Medical Specialists® since the pharmacy started to provide it almost 2 years ago. The gel is remarkably free of any drug – meaning there are none of the side-effects of oral painkillers - and dries onto the skin, travelling into the affected joint(s) to reduce pain and restore mobility in the joint(s). Flexiseq gel may be particularly beneficial to those that don’t like to take tablets, or struggle to swallow them. For the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, the primary focus is limiting the progress of the condition as well as limiting the damage to the affected joints. The treatments usually include analgesics (painkillers), disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), regular exercise and physiotherapy.