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It’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week. Let’s shed some light on a condition that’s common, though often misunderstood. 

The 18th to the 24th of June marks Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week. And although it’s a fairly common condition that affects over 400,000 people in the UK, most people don’t have much of an understanding of what rheumatoid arthritis really is. Let’s shed some light on the condition and explain how you can show support this year.

What exactly is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis whereby the immune system malfunctions and begins attacking the body, leading to inflammation of the joints that become red, swollen and painful. Rheumatoid arthritis is unique from other forms of arthritis in that it affects the body symmetrically, as in both hands or both feet, rather than one or the other. Over time it can affect your eyes, heart, lungs, skin, blood vessels and more.

Who gets rheumatoid arthritis and what are the symptoms?

In the UK it’s almost twice as likely for women to have rheumatoid arthritis than men. About one in every 100 women have the disease, compared with one in every 200 men. The inflammations lead to joint pain and swelling, stiffness and general fatigue that can reduce the patient’s quality of life. Along with the physical pain and discomfort, living with this condition long-term can take a huge emotional and psychological toll, sometimes leading to stress, depression and anxiety.

What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

Well, the jury’s still out on that one. Doctors don’t know for sure. The root cause is the malfunctioning immune system, but why this happens no one knows. Some doctors believe it’s caused by a virus or bacteria that changes the immune system, causing it to act strangely. Others link it to lifestyle factors like smoking. There are even certain genetic patterns that make some people more likely to contract the condition.

Sadly there is no cure. But early aggressive treatment can help to prevent disability and increase the chances of remission.

How can you get involved with Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness Week?

This year the awareness campaign is all about sharing your stories of rheumatoid arthritis. All it takes a quick video taken on your smartphone of about 30-60 seconds. Interested? Grab your phone and get filming - and try to base it around one or more of these topics:

  • Your diagnosis
  • Who you have told about your condition and their opinion of it
  • Invisible symptoms and how they impact work, education and relationships
  • How the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society has helped with your RA

With the #ReframeRA campaign, the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society aims to use the videos to draw on real life insights from people living with rheumatoid arthritis in order to build a broad base of knowledge to advise and help people living with the condition deal with the emotional impact. Feel like filming? Send your videos here or email

Arthritis travel insurance

Thinking of jetting off? Many travel insurance companies charge high premiums to cover people living with medical conditions. We do things differently. Thanks to a medical screening procedure that allows you to tell us more about your condition, there’s a good chance we can give you comprehensive arthritis travel insurance at a snip of the price of other policies. Get an instant, no-obligation quote online or call us on 0345 90 80 161.

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