Rheumatoid Arthritis Revisited

  • By Judith Sullivan
  • 31 Mar, 2017
  • 07 Feb, 2016
    Author/blogger Reggie Simpson

It's been in the news of late

What do the following famous names have in common?

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, renowned French artist

Claire King, British TV actress starring in Emmerdale, Bad Girls

Dr Christiaan Barnard, who performed the first human-to-human heart transplant

Kathleen Turner, US Hollywood star (Body Heat, Romancing the Stone)

They all suffered or are suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

February 2, 2016 was Rheumatoid Arthritis Day - a day to promote education and awareness launched by the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the United States. Its mission is to improve the lives of people with RA and to raise greater public awareness, develop resources to support patients with effective healthcare decisions, advocate for quality healthcare and fair government policies, and contribute to scientific research in finding a cure.

It’s worth having a look at their website and online resources:


In all about 1.3 million Americans — 75 percent of them women — know the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, or RA.

Closer to home, the charity National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS), which counts the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equality as a patron, provides information for RA sufferers, their families, friends and carers and healthcare professionals in the UK. This includes information on the condition, how to manage it, and living with the condition so as to have the best quality of life possible.

690,000 people in the UK (1%) have rheumatoid arthritis costing the NHS approximately £560 million per year. The National Audit Office estimate that the total cost of RA to the UK economy is £4.8 billion per year.

  World Arthritis Day (WAD) 12 October 2016

We may be debating about remaining in the EU, but there are European organizations and initiatives that focus attention on education, research and lobbying in the EU on RA and wider arthritic conditions and their detrimental effects on health and wellbeing.

WAD was established in 1996 as a global initiative bringing people together to raise awareness of issues affecting people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. WAD is celebrated every year on 12 October and is supported by a year-round global campaign to raise awareness, influence public policy and provide a vast network of support for all those touched by arthritis, be it osteoarthritis (OA) or arthritis in any form. The initiative is driven by EULAR (The European League Against Rheumatism) based in Switzerland. See http://www.eular.org/  to learn more. The organisation also has a useful leaflet on 10 things you should know about rheumatic diseases:


What is the difference between RA and osteoarthritis (OA) and other forms of arthritis  

Arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe inflammation of the joints. However, there are different kinds of arthritis. Although RA and OA both affect the joints, they’re very different forms of the same broader condition.

RA is an autoimmune disease, which means your body attacks itself.  In people with RA, the body interprets the synovium , the soft lining around the joints, as a threat similar to a virus or bacteria and attacks it. This attack causes fluid to accumulate within the joint. The fluid build-up causes swelling, pain, stiffness, and inflammation around your joints.

OA, the most common form of arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease. People with OA experience a breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the joints. The wearing down of cartilage causes your bones to rub against each other exposing small nerves, which causes pain. OA does not involve an autoimmune process like RA does, but mild inflammation also occurs.

Both types of arthritis are more common in women than men as evidenced in the American statistics.  RA and OA are more prevalent in older adults, but RA can run in families and develop at any age, often showing as a low-grade temperature, muscle aches and/or fatigue.

People who are overweight, smoke, suffer from joint deformities, diabetes, or gout are more likely to develop OA.  Equally, sporting stars past and current have been diagnosed with OA, such as golfer Tiger Woods.

Symptoms could include morning stiffness and severe fatigue, as well as sore joints.

At Betafeet Podiatry we ask you for your medical history, and among the questions are whether you suffer from RA and/or arthritis. Not every patient understands what these mean unless they have been diagnosed with one or the other.

You may also wish to refer back to a website blog I posted in December 2015 on RA:



Hopefully, these resource tools will give you a better understanding about RA and arthritis generally. You should speak to your GP if you have any concerns about chronic or recent joint pain so that proper referral pathways to podiatric or other healthcare can be made, such as the Beta Health Clinic in Hemel, you may also benefit from other holistic treatments for RA from visiting  www.betahealth.co.uk .   

By Judith Sullivan 09 Dec, 2017
By Reggie Simpson
By Judith Sullivan 28 Sep, 2017

We are delighted to announce that prose written by our Practice Business Manager, Reggie Simpson, will be featured in the Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s Rhyme & Reason 2018 diary, now in its 26th year. The theme for this forthcoming year’s diary is ‘Freedom’. All proceeds from sales of the diary go to support this worthwhile charity.

Reggie says: ‘Although my entry wasn't among the top poetry and prize winners, I was chuffed to be selected for the 2018 diary. The theme was quite broad, but my degrees in politics and love of writing invariably drew me to entering the competition. In the end I settled on a focus of freedom in healthcare, no doubt inspired by my current employment at Betafeet Podiatry and the noble work of Rennie Grove Hospice Care ( www.renniegrove.org ).

Rennie Grove Hospice Care, formally known as Iain Rennie Hospice at Home, merged with Grove House, St Albans in 2010 to integrate services in south western Hertfordshire. The ethos and values of the two charities were closely aligned with the principle of allowing patients to lead a good quality of life at home for as long as possible, helping patients and their families avoid the distress of unnecessary hospital visits whenever possible.

The diaries can be ordered from the Rennie Grove website, payment by debit/credit card. It's part of their annual Christmas/holiday promotion. There will also be copies in local Rennie Grove shops. They are £5 each with additional postage if bought online. Shop locations can be found here: http://www.renniegrove.org/support/our-shops/online-shop/page/2/ .

Here is Reggie’s entry (to appear in the month of September 2018): 

‘Do not count the days; make the days count.’

Muhammad Ali. Professional Boxer.  Audacious. Charismatic. A winner in the ring.

But even when you have won it all, life throws you a few more punches.

Yes, his name opened doors and wealth, but the bombastic man of his younger years was humbled in later life, and following retirement, he dedicated himself increasingly to charitable work. Parkinson’s was already taking hold.

He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the highest honour the USA can bestow.   He died in June 2016, aged 74.

Now the news is about boxing helping dementia sufferers.

So what does this mean for freedom? Does getting battered around the head spell freedom and choice? One would say yes; a boxer is free to take such risks. When the consequences deal you a fatal blow as a result, when do you lose your freedom? Is it when you have been reduced to a shadow of your former self, a normal human being, and have to rely on others? Muhammad Ali likely had plenty of resources to ensure his final days would help him on his final journey.

We tend to think of freedom in political terms. It is hard to remove freedom in healthcare from politics. Think NHS reform, among others. Freedom in a healthcare environment means more to the individuals and families when they have life-limiting illnesses and need the care of volunteer-run hospices such as Iain Rennie Grove.

The NHS gives patients the rights to make choices about different aspects of the care they receive, from the different treatment options available. How these are chosen is individual, although for those with life threatening or limiting illnesses this choice will fall on family members. 

I quote the following:

‘In health there is freedom. Health is the first of all liberties’.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel, Philosopher

September is World Alzheimer’s Month.




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