‘Arthritis Isn’t Just For Old People’: Six Under 30s Share The Reality Of Living With The Conditio

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 23: Steven Frayne commonly known as the English magician 'Dynamo' attends Glastonbury Festival on June 23, 2017 in Glastonbury, England. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Magician Dynamo, 35, has revealed he’s unable to shuffle cards because of arthritis, a condition that causes pain and inflammation in a person’s joints.

Arthriti is thought to affect a staggering 10 million people in the UK. The two most common types are osteoarthritis, which affects the smooth cartilage lining of a joint, making movement more difficult; and rheumatoid arthritis, which causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. With the latter, symptoms usually affect the hands, feet and wrists.

While it can be all too easy to associate arthritis with older age, the reality is many young people live with the condition too. We asked six people aged 30 and under to share their experiences.

‘Arthritis can be an isolating illness’

Anoushka Anand, 28, administrator

Anoushka Anand lives with rheumatoid arthritis.

Anoushka Anand, who lives in London, said arthritis can be “very isolating” and as such it’s important to take care of your mental health following a diagnosis. She said her rheumatoid arthritis can cause emotional stress due to “having to deal with daily joint pains whilst being at work, not being able to carry out daily routines and struggling with daily domestic tasks such as cooking, cleaning and struggling to stand in the shower”.

She also said public awareness of the condition needs to improve. Offering an example of where this would help, she explained: “For a young person suffering with arthritis, they may not be at the stage where they are having to use walking aids but when using public transport, they may need to sit down due to pain and stiffness. Like me, they may just suffer in silence and stand; as asking someone who is sitting down, for their seat becomes awkward and embarrassing.”


‘You have to keep moving’

Becky Tanner-Rolf, 27, writer

Becky Tanner-Rolf

Becky has arthritis in her wrists, knees, ankles and hips – she describes the pain as “period pain or toothache in your joints”. She suffered badly from juvenile arthritis between the ages of 8-16 and was hospitalised at one point because of it, however the pain has become more manageable over time.

She said that following an arthritis diagnosis it’s important to keep moving, regardless of how you feel. “There are days when getting out of bed can be hard, walking up a flight of stairs can be impossible,” she said. “But you have to keep moving as much as you can. That could be a pilates class on your good days, or just getting up to make a tea on the bad ones.

“It might sound counterintuitive, but staying as active as possible not only helps ease the pain but it also keeps your mood up.”


‘Medication changed everything for me.’

Sophie Glew, 26, makeup artist

Sophie Glew

Sophie Glew was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis three years ago, aged 23. She’s now “in remission”, meaning she has no symptoms, however the nature of the disease means it may flare up and come back at any time.

For Sophie, getting diagnosed and being prescribed medication was life-changing. “I can live normally and most days now I even forget I have it,” she said. “I work as a freelance makeup artist so I’m always on my feet and rushing about between jobs, carrying heavy bags on the tube, etc. At one point it was very hard and draining for me. My wrists became so weak I could hardly lift things and [my] fingers would swell up and throb with pain.”

Sophie acknowledges that she will most likely have to take medication for the rest of her life to keep the pain at bay. “The worst thing about the illness is its unpredictability – sometimes you will have a flare-up and there’s nothing you can do about it but give yourself a break and rest,” she added. “However it’s treatable and it’s manageable and perfectly possible to still live a full and exciting life!”


‘I get tired easily.’

George Manning, 9, school pupil

George Manning

George Manning, from Essex, lives with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and is just nine years old. “It affects all ages. It’s not fussy of who it wants to attack,” his mum said on his behalf.

He wants others to know that he is “just like every other child”, but he does have to do things a bit differently to other children. “I still want to play out with friends and be invited to parties but I may have to cancel last minute. I don’t mean to be short-tempered but I get frustrated when I can’t do something because I am in pain. I get tired easily.

“Having arthritis affects my school work, concentration and friendships.”


‘It shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you love.’

Laura Burge, 29, press and PR officer

Laura Burge

Laura Burge was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her knees and hips last year. The 29-year-old from London said it doesn’t typically affect her on a day-to-day basis, however exercising – particularly running and stretching – can be difficult.

“When I was told I had osteoarthritis, I was really worried I would have to stop running, which I love,” she said. Thankfully she found a workaround and now enjoys exercise, albeit in smaller doses.

“Exercise can be good for milder forms of the condition, and I still enjoy running, albeit at shorter distances, as well as cycling and other sports,” she said. “In fact, I find the latter helps.”


‘Arthritis isn’t just for old people.’

Carrie Thompson, 25, Masters Student in Music at Oxford University

Carrie Thompson

Carrie, who lives in Oxford, said when people find out she has rheumatoid arthritis, she is always told: ”You can’t have Arthritis, you are too young!”

“I wish that was the case,” she said. “But that is my diagnosis, among other things. After they find out about my diagnosis, most then move on to anecdotes about their gran or grandad’s ailments, and offer me advice on diet, herbal remedies and other weird and wacky treatments that have ‘cured’ their older relatives.

“If only it was that simple, and I have tried everything under the sun to alleviate my arthritis symptoms. The truth is however, that there is currently no cure for mine and I will be on medication for the rest of my life.”

Whatever your question is about arthritis, Arthritis Research UK can help you find the answer. Visit their website now: www.arthritisresearchuk.org/askus.


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