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New research shows just 1 in 4 Brits have an understanding of what Rheumatoid Arthritis is

Written by Samantha Lade, Donr

Published on Wednesday, 20th June 2018

New research shows just 1 in 4 Brits have an understanding of what Rheumatoid Arthritis is

Research collected to understand the public's understanding of the auto-immune condition Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) has revealed a low level of knowledge.

The research, conducted by NRAS (National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society) and YouGov, was undertaken ahead of this week's RA Awareness Week, from the 18th to the 24th June.

Results revealed a huge misunderstanding of arthritis – with 42% of those surveyed defining RA as the wear and tear of joints, which is confusion with the more commonly known osteoarthritis.

It also revealed only around one in four Brits know that RA is an auto-immune condition.

When compared to other conditions such as MS, Lupus and Parkinson's, RA is the most prevalent, affecting in excess of 400,000 people in the UK.

Perhaps the most worrying of the results, states the charity, is that only one in ten people knew that the youngest age someone could suffer from rheumatoid arthritis is 16+. 

However, RA is not an 'older person's disease' and does not discriminate on age.

Ailsa Bosworth MBE, CEO of NRAS, adds: 'The reason I find this worrying is because it implies that the early signs and symptoms of RA would not be recognised by younger people.

'And if it is not treated as a medical emergency, then it can delay diagnosis and the urgent treatment required.'

RA is a complex and serious auto-immune disease where the immune system attacks the joint tissue causing inflammation, stiffness, pain and extreme fatigue. 

If ignored or undiagnosed, this chronic disease can increase mortality and impact other organs such as the heart, eyes and lungs.

Ailsa Bosworth continues: 'This RA Awareness Week, I would be delighted if even just a percentage of the population took the time to understand the effect of this disease so that they can spot symptoms early.'

This RA Awareness Week, NRAS is working to #ReframeRA, changing how we think of the condition and raising awareness of it.

Actress Claire King, known for her role on Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Bad Girls and Strictly Come Dancing openly talks about her life with RA and says: “You just think the worst at first. I asked myself if I was going to end up in a wheelchair and what did this mean for my acting career.

'My pain hasn’t held me back too much. But I still wish more people knew what RA was and what I am going through. 

'That’s why I am working with NRAS to support them in their mission to challenge misconceptions about this relatively invisible illness.'

For more information on NRAS and RA Awareness Week, visit their website.