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What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis and can cause joints to feel stiff and painful. It is more common in older people but can also affect younger people especially if there has been an injury to a joint. Sometimes OA causes the joints to swell and change shape, especially the finger joints, and sometimes the joints make creaking or cracking noises.

The symptoms of OA can vary a lot. Sometimes there is no pain at all and sometimes the pain can be severe and moving them is difficult. There can be a loss of muscle around the joints and this can make them feel weaker. Almost all joints can develop osteoarthritis but the most common places are the fingers, thumbs, knees and hips as well as the low back.

It may also involve the joints of the neck in older people resulting in stiffness and pain in movement. This can be severe in cases of ankylosing spondylitis.

In addition to pain from movement, a dull ache may result from a muscular effort to support and hold your head still. The pains are often felt in the back of the head or may radiate over your shoulders and down your arms and may be accompanied by tingling in your fingers.

Inside a joint with osteoarthritis, there is loss of cartilage which surrounds the ends of the bones and acts as a shock absorber and the formation of new bone which can cause the joints to look lumpy or become bent.

These symptoms are often troublesome at night and made worse by sleeping with the head in an abnormal position the result of using too many pillows and sleeping on a soft mattress.

Poor posture or sleeping heavily with too many pillows may also give rise to pain and stiffness of the neck.

According to research, they say that everyone will develop some form of osteoarthritis, eventually. If people live long enough, 100% of the entire human population will develop osteoarthritis. One of the biggest risk factors for developing osteoarthritis apart from age is obesity, genetics and gender.

Genetics can play a part in determining whether a person will develop osteoarthritis, but other factors are also at work. It is the process of the breaking down of cartilage in the joints and the inflammatory response to that.

Often no special tests are needed to diagnose osteoarthritis, but sometimes blood tests may be taken to make sure that nothing else is wrong and sometimes X-rays can help confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes MRI scans are used but these are usually not necessary. X-rays of the neck and low back are not useful in diagnosing osteoarthritis because they often show changes that happen normally with age and many people with these changes have no pain.

In hip osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the hip joint thins over time, reducing the protective layer between bones, leading to bone-on-bone rubbing and the formation of new bone spurs. These changes contribute to the symptoms of hip osteoarthritis—which include pain and stiffness in the groin, buttocks, and knee. Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease, with sequential stages. Your treatment will depend on the stage of your hip osteoarthritis.

The severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints.

Research has shown that if you suffer from osteoarthritis pain in the knee or hip, then aerobic and stretching exercises in warm water can help to relieve it.

Treatments could include taking supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin. You should also make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D.

Hydrotherapy is another treatment used for OA which is hot water, cold water, and alternating hot and cold water. Hot water is known for stimulating the immune system and is also good for increasing your circulation. Cold water constricts blood vessels and is effective in reducing inflammation.

Using both hot and cold has been found to improve circulation. It was found that water heated between 32 degrees C to 36 degrees C slightly reduces osteoarthritis pain over three months. They say that hydrotherapy changes lives and has been proven to be a highly effective form of natural therapy which works by stimulating the endorphins, which in turn helps you to control pain and alleviate tension.

The buoyancy of the water can make some activity seem easier, while it is actually working muscles very hard. Patients should get used to how their body feels after a session in order to gauge appropriate levels of activity (i.e. not “overdoing” it).

Arthritis Research has an article on how you can access hydrotherapy through the NHS. They say that hydrotherapy sessions are available on the NHS, and most hospitals have access to hydrotherapy pools. Any member of the healthcare team should be able to refer you to an NHS physiotherapist if they think you might benefit from hydrotherapy. In some parts of the UK you can also refer yourself to a physiotherapist, who’ll assess whether hydrotherapy would be suitable for you. Check with your GP or call your local rheumatology department to find out if an NHS physiotherapist in your area will accept self-referrals.

Source: Very Well, WebMD, Versus Arthritis, NHS, Healthline, Arthritis Action

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Ankylosing Spondylitis – This is a joint pain (arthritis) that affects the spine, causing irritation and pain. Individuals with AS frequently experience flare-ups which can be quite debilitating. The symptoms of AS flares can vary from person to person and among flares include:

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • stiffness and pain in the back
  • joint pain, often in the rib cage, shoulders, hips, or knees
  • enthesitis, which is swelling and pain of the connective tissue
  • depression or anxiety

Someone who may be suffering from an AS flare may have burning joints, muscle spasms, and flu-like symptoms, in addition to pain and immobility in the affected areas of the body.

Diagnosis for (AS) can be difficult to diagnose because the condition develops slowly and there’s no definitive test. Your GP may arrange blood tests to check for signs of inflammation in your body. If you are sent to see a rheumatologist they will carry out imaging tests to examine the appearance of your spine and pelvis, as well as further blood tests.

These may include:

an X-ray
MRI scan
an ultrasound scan

Treatment for AS includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), gentle exercise, massage therapy, tens machines and hot and cold therapies.

Psoriatic Spondylitis – This causes similar symptoms to AS and includes:

  • back pain
  • stiffness in the back or neck that improves when moving around
  • stiffness made worse by periods of staying still, such as sleep
  • trouble bending or moving the back
  • fatigue

These symptoms can cause extreme pain and some people experience difficulty in their daily lives. Left untreated, the inflammation can cause long-term damage to the spine and joints.

The symptoms of PS may seem to come and go. When symptoms get worse, this is known as a flare. The location of pain and swelling may also change over time. Certain infections, such as strep throat, may trigger the overactive immune response that causes psoriatic spondylitis. However, psoriatic spondylitis is not contagious.

Diagnosis of PS involves a GP who will make a diagnosis based on symptoms and medical history, and by ruling out other conditions. Usually, a blood test will be carried out to test for rheumatoid factor (the antibody found in rheumatoid arthritis). This is usually negative in people with psoriatic arthritis, although a positive result can be due to causes other than rheumatoid arthritis. A doctor may also use X Rays, ultrasounds or other scans, such as an MRI to look at the patient’s joints. These scans often show inflammation or areas of new bone growth with poorly-defined edges in people with psoriatic arthritis. The criteria are inflammatory arthritis, the presence of psoriasis, and a blood test negative for rheumatoid factor.

Treatment for PS is similar to AS and includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), immunosuppressants, and biologic medications, such as TNF inhibitors. Gentle exercise, massage therapy, tens machines and hot and cold therapies.

Spondylitis (also called spondyloarthritis) refers to a group of inflammatory conditions that affect the spine. The most common type is ankylosing spondylitis, but there are other forms that have links to other inflammatory diseases, such as psoriasis.

According to the Spondylitis Association of America, 20 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) will develop psoriatic spondylitis. This means that you have PsA with spinal involvement.

Keeping a strict diary of your symptoms will really help your GP to decide if he thinks you may have one of these conditions. You can find out lots more details on these two conditions on the Arthritis website.

Source: Arthritis, NHS ,Medical News Today Psoriasis Association Healthline

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SPINAL CORD INJURY AWARENESS DAY – Friday 13th May – Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day, encouraging businesses to show their support by taking on a Wheels at Work™ fundraiser! #SCIDay #SCI22

Take to a wheelchair for the day to empathize with just some of the challenges faced by those living with a spinal cord injury. Whether you’re an individual, at school, college, or company you can take part.

There’s room for everyone to take on Wheels at Work.  All you must do is set a date to take part and spend a day in a wheelchair.  Life After Paralysis will take care of the coordination thanks to their mobility specialist partners Gerald Simonds and provide you with all the fundraising materials you want/need to make your day a success.

Then simply ask your family, friends, and colleagues to sponsor you. Or better yet, get them to join in too!

If you’d like to know more about Life After Paralysis Wheels at Work programmer please contact: Charlotte Minoprio, Tel:  01296 315255 or email:  charlotte.minoprio@smsr.org.uk

WORLD RED CROSS DAY – Sunday 8th May – The first Red Cross & Red Crescent Day was held in 1948. This event is supported by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement; a humanitarian movement that aims to protect people’s lives and health, alleviate or prevent suffering and ensure respect is given to all.

Prior to this observance and following the end of the First World War, there had been an initiative known as the ‘Red Cross Truce’. Initially, this was a three-day truce in former Czechoslovakia which took place during Easter time.

The work of the Red Cross also includes first aid, emergency response, health, and social care, preparing for disasters, refugee services and helping people find missing families. During times of war, the Red Cross helps to protect people in armed conflict.

Increased urbanization has made the work of the Red Cross more complex. A greater number of people who now live in urban areas face exposure to hazards, and insecurity and have poor access to services such as food, health care and water.

When a disaster such as a tsunami or an earthquake strikes densely populated urban areas, the consequences can be immense. The urbanization theme helps people recognize the important work the Red Cross is doing in these areas and why people should support this organization.

Whether schools are open or closed, World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day is the perfect opportunity for parents and teachers to talk to their children about the importance of the Red Cross and Red Crescent all over the world.

INTERNATIONAL ME AWARENESS DAY – Thursday 12th May – This year, 2022, marks the 30th anniversary of International May 12th Awareness Day. The idea originated with Thomas Michael Hennessy, Jr., the founder of Repeal Existing Stereotypes about Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (no longer active). Tom Hennessy was based in the USA but understood that it needed to be an international event; he designated May 12 as the International Awareness Day for the spectrum of illnesses he called Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND).

May 12 was chosen as it coincided with the birth date of Florence Nightingale, the celebrated English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale became chronically ill in her mid-thirties after returning from the Crimean War; the M.E.-like illness often left her bedridden during the last 50 years of her life. You will find a more detailed account in A Short History of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

Tom Hennessy included Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome and Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome)FibromyalgiaGulf War Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity under the CIND umbrella. These illnesses, characterised by cognitive problems, chronic muscle and joint pain, extremely poor stamina, and numerous other symptoms, afflict people around the world in alarming numbers.

May 12 efforts have been low-key and undertaken by individuals or individual organisations. Due to the mandates of these organisations, the awareness efforts have, for the most part, focused on only one of the illnesses. From the beginning of 1993 various M.E. organisations were behind the idea, and it was subsequently highlighted at the First World Congress on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Related Disorders in 1995. This was instrumental in the campaign being adopted internationally for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. The universal symbol of the blue ribbon is worn to spread awareness and support sufferers.

The World ME Alliance, a collaborative of organisations from across the globe, is launching World ME Day on 12th May this year. This new initiative aims to bring together organisations and unify efforts to raise awareness and campaign together on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

1st – 31st May –

Throughout May the campaign raised awareness of the damaging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on stroke research. In previous years, Stroke Awareness Month has been marked with the Make May Purple campaign.

The Stroke Association is here to support people to rebuild their lives after a stroke. They believe everyone deserves to live the best life they can after a stroke. They provide specialist support, fund critical research and campaign to make sure people affected by stroke get the absolute best care and support to rebuild their lives. Rebuilding lives after a stroke is a team effort. It takes the determination of stroke survivors and carers, the generosity of supporters and the dedication of the healthcare and research communities to get there. For more information, click here.

WORLD FIBROMYALGIA AWARENESS DAY – 12th May – Millions of people worldwide will be holding events and participating in other ways to help raise awareness for this invisible and insidious disease during the month of May.

WORLD FIBROMYALGIA AWARENESS MONTH – May – Fibromyalgia Awareness Month for May 1st-30th – May is the month we all come together to educate and raise awareness about Fibromyalgia with friends and family, at work, and in our neighbourhoods. Take part to share the facts and make a difference for all those impacted by Fibromyalgia, #SupportFibro. Fibromyalgia Awareness Day is May 12th and World Lupus Day is May 10th. Get ready to turn the month of May purple!

Help to promote World Fibromyalgia Awareness Day on 12th May 2022 in any way you can. Some Fibro groups have created unique ways to help promote awareness. Throughout the month of May of each year, people worldwide spread awareness of fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions through live events, online activities, and personal efforts.

Fibromyalgia UK is still there but with the COVID-19 virus cannot hold any events but say they still have a hotline and contact form. Symptoms of Fibromyalgia may include heightening skin sensitivity – especially to pain, muscle stiffness, some difficulties sleeping, problems with memory and concentration, extreme tiredness, and headaches.

NATIONAL OSTEOPOROSIS MONTH – 1ST – 31st May – Each May, the Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation (BHOF) works to generate awareness and inspire behavioural change regarding the critical importance of good bone health and osteoporosis prevention. Osteoporosis is common. One in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. The disease, which is not a normal part of ageing, is serious causing broken bones, pain, suffering and life-altering loss of mobility — yet it is treatable and even preventable.

During May and all year long, they want everyone to make a commitment to be bone strong! Here are some of the many ways that you can get involved: Share your story: Raise awareness about osteoporosis by telling others about your experiences. Sharing your journey will help others understand the impact of this disease and gain an understanding of what it’s like for someone who has it. Visit our blog, Bone Talk, to get inspiration from our Voices of Osteoporosis stories. If you’d like to be featured, click here.

Join the online community: BHOF’s Osteoporosis Online Support Community, hosted by Inspire, brings people with, and affected by osteoporosis together online to share experiences and provide support for one another. Now with more than 68,000 members, this community is a reliable source of support and a channel for learning more about living with the disease. Learn more and join today!

Post on social media: Spread the word among your network by using this toolkit complete with graphics and suggested posts. We’ve made it easy for you to raise awareness and get others involved in taking steps to #BeBoneStrong!

Start a fundraiser: Visit the BHOF fundraising page to learn more and register with Crowdrise. You can then personalize your fundraiser with stories, photos, and videos. It only takes a few minutes. Then invite your friends, family, and network to support your fundraiser. You can even donate to yourself to get the ball rolling.

Contribute: Give during the month of May to help improve patient care and support for those who have already broken bones due to osteoporosis and to protect future generations from this debilitating disease. Donate today!

DEAF AWARENESS WEEK – 2nd – 8th May – Deaf Awareness Week is an annual event. It last took place from 3 to 9 May 2021. The focus of the week was to raise awareness of deafness and hearing loss. It aimed to celebrate exceptional individuals and showcase what you can do to champion inclusivity and be more deaf-friendly.

There was so much that happened that week, including many online events:

  • the ‘terrible twos’ (and ones and threes!) online coffee mornings
  • Early Education online sessions
  • Overcoming Sleep Issues for Deaf Children with a resident sleep specialist, Nicola Corazzo
  • and many, many more.

You can still get involved and take part in one of the National Deaf Children’s Society fundraising events to help support deaf children, young people, and their families!

WORLD LUPUS DAY – 10th May – This year for World Lupus Day they want to Make Lupus Visible using the power of social media to show the world the many faces of lupus and the impact of this debilitating autoimmune disease.

The World Lupus Day annual observance brings together lupus organizations and people impacted by the disease from around the world to urge the public to understand lupus and spread awareness.

World Lupus Day. Org invites everyone around the world to participate in this year’s social media effort on World Lupus Day because it’s only by working together that will elevate lupus as an international health priority so it gets the attention and resources it deserves.

They are currently finalizing lupus awareness tools, shareable images and sample messaging you can use to help Make Lupus Visible on World Lupus Day and will share all of this with you soon.

ARTHRITIS CARE AWARENESS WEEK – 14th – 21st May – Arthritis Care Awareness Week is a UK based event that raises awareness about arthritis, gathers support for people with this condition, and highlights the work of Arthritis Care, a charity that supports this event. Arthritis is a condition marked by painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. There are many types of arthritis that can affect a person in different ways.

This event helps to educate the public about how arthritis can affect a person’s life. Arthritis can be painful and for many, it can stop them from living the life they want.

For some years, a theme is set which provides a focus for the week. For example, in 2007 the theme had been, ‘Much Done, Much Still To Do‘ which reflects past achievements of Arthritis Care and the work that still needs to be done.

One focus of this event is to inform people with arthritis about how to live with their condition. The week is also a time to promote Arthritis Care’s support network.

The Arthritis Care Website and UK freephone hotline, 0808 800 4050 is a good place to start for those who require more information about arthritis and the support available to them.

INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY – 12th May – celebrated on 12th May every year, which is also the anniversary of the birth of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. In 2022, the theme of International Nurses Day has been set by the ICN as ‘Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health.’ You can learn more about International Nurses Day 2022 and other ICN events by visiting their website here.

International Nurses Day has been celebrated by the ICN since 1965. However, it wasn’t until 1974 when 12th May was chosen to celebrate this day to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. 

Celebrate this event with your children using this engaging and informative KS1 International Nurses Day Assembly PowerPoint. This lovely resource prompts children to think about the work nurses do and how important they are in keeping us all healthy. Children are introduced to Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, as well as reflecting on the work nurses have done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

MENTAL HEALTH WEEK – 9th – 15th May – The week will explore the experience of loneliness, its effect on our mental health and how we can all play a part in reducing loneliness in our communities.

Loneliness affects millions of people in the UK every year and is a key driver of poor mental health. The Foundation’s Mental Health in the Pandemic research has found that loneliness has been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. The Foundation has been tracking loneliness levels in the UK during the pandemic and found the experience has been much higher with devastating impact. Loneliness has been an important factor contributing to higher levels of distress, resulting from people’s sense of isolation and reduced ability to connect with others.  Further polling also found that loneliness was one of the leading issues that the public felt needed to be addressed.

The week will raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it.  Reducing loneliness is a major step towards a mentally healthy society. The Mental Health Foundation has set the theme, organised and hosted Mental Health Awareness Week for the last 22 years, during which time the event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally. Further details will be released in the run-up to the Week in early 2022.

WORLD MS AWARENESS WEEK –25th April – 1st May – MS is unpredictable and different for everybody. Symptoms can come and go and change over time, and it’s difficult to know how your condition might progress. That’s why this #MSAwarenessWeek (from 25 April – 1 May) we’re shining a light on the uncertainty of living with the condition.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition – that means it affects your nerves. You get it when your immune system isn’t working properly.

Your immune system normally protects you by fighting off infection, but in MS it attacks your nerves by mistake. Your nerves control lots of different parts of your body. That’s why you can get MS symptoms in many parts of your body. It’s also why everyone’s MS is different.

Once diagnosed, MS stays with you for life, but treatments and specialists can help you to manage the condition and its symptoms. The MS Society are there to help you live well with your MS and fund research to stop MS for good. Click here to get involved with MS Awareness Week.

Source: Life After Paralysis What Health ME Support NICS Well Fibromyalgia News Today BHOF, NDCS Versus Arthritis Twinkl Mental Health The MS Society