Drive for an hour in any direction in Devon and…
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society have a new group in Torbay to support about 1,350 people who suffer from the disease.
Approximately 1,350 people in the Torbay area are estimated to have Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), and many more are affected by it. The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) is proud to announce its new RA patient group for this area, which will bring a valuable source of information and education for people with RA and their family members.
The first meeting in mid-May of the Torbay NRAS group was lucky enough to have Dr. Lucie Wilk, a Locum Consultant Rheumatologist from Torbay and South Devon NHS Trust, who explained how to take a ‘Holistic Management approach to RA’.
So what is RA?
RA is a chronic autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, particularly hands, wrists and feet. Once detected, damage to the joints cannot be reversed. Additional symptoms include inflammation, stiffness, pain and extreme fatigue. Every 20 minutes in the UK, another person is diagnosed with RA – yet it is still a relatively misunderstood and invisible disease.
Arriving at a diagnosis of RA is often difficult, as these conditions are often not perceived as life threatening and thus attributed to other causes. However, an early diagnosis of RA is crucial as it can also affect organs such as the heart, eyes and lungs and can lead to premature mortality if not treated correctly. The cause(s) for RA are not entirely clear but are often linked to family history, genes or smoking habits. The debilitating condition can affect people of all ages without discrimination. RA is a long-term condition with no cure; however, the right medication and treatment can help patients to manage their symptoms and increase their quality of life.
For people living with an auto-immune disease, it can be hard to communicate pain. Disability is not always visible and trying to get through daily life – going to the shops, preparing meals or getting to work – is more challenging when a patient’s condition worsens or flares up.
Like all illnesses, visible or otherwise, we all get something by connecting with people in a similar situation. With RA, it can be as simple as a tip from a fellow RA-patient on where to buy easy-grip kitchenware or the best exercises to ease swelling. Patients in the Torbay area are now able to receive not just NRAS’ support, but also peer advice from others affected by the condition.
The newly-launched group will bring relief, insight and a sense of community to patients and their loved ones, as it is helping them to better understand what they and their body is battling through. It is a way to ensure that patients receive important information about new developments, advances, treatments and policy changes that affect them so that they can live their life in the best way.
Ailsa Bosworth, who founded NRAS after struggling with her own diagnosis of RA, is proud to add the Torbay NRAS group to the growing list of regional groups: “When I was first diagnosed, over 30 years ago, there were very few people who openly shared the problems and issues of RA. It’s great to be able to launch yet another patient group in the UK to bring the peer support and advice we offer into the local communities. Those with RA, or indeed families and friends of those affected, will really benefit from this face-to-face and peer support, and I truly believe it’s what makes the condition bearable.”
Torbay’s NRAS group
The Torbay NRAS group is one of many in NRAS’ growing network around the UK. All initiatives are run by volunteers who have been diagnosed with the condition themselves. This means that they fully understand what living with the autoimmune disease means and are able to share first-hand experiences with the community.
The group meets once every other month on a Tuesday from 7:00-8:30pm at Barton Baptist Church, Happaway Road, Barton, Torquay, TQ2 8HJ. There are plenty of parking spaces available. Access from the car park to the entrance is on the same level and there is a lift to the upstairs main hall. The next meetings will take place on 18th July, 19th September and 21st November.
For further details, call 01628 823 524 or visit the NRAS website www.nras.org.uk/groups/torbay-nras-group
All meetings are free to attend and you do not have to be a member of NRAS.