What is rheumatoid arthritis? | The Independent

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Waterloo Road star Adam Thomas has revealed that he has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis just ahead of his debut on Strictly Come Dancing next month. In an Instagram post on August 11, the 35-year-old actor expressed his surprise, noting that he initially believed the condition was something that affected people later in life. Thomas explained that he has been experiencing pain since January, with it starting in his knees and then spreading to his wrists, fingers, ankles, and toes. After numerous tests and visits to doctors and hospitals, he received the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Despite the news, Thomas remains positive and is ready to take on the challenge of the dance floor, emphasizing the importance of not taking small things in life for granted.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joints, particularly in the hands, feet, and wrists. According to Benjamin Ellis, a consultant rheumatologist and senior clinical policy advisor to Versus Arthritis, the condition can affect people of all ages and occurs when the immune system attacks the joints. Some individuals with rheumatoid arthritis may also experience symptoms such as fatigue and weight loss. It is more common in women and often starts between the ages of 30 and 50.

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but factors such as being female, smoking, and having a family history of the condition can increase the risk. While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, early diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms and reduce the frequency of flare-ups. Treatment options include medication, supportive therapies like physiotherapy, and surgery if necessary. Early intervention can also prevent long-term joint damage caused by inflammation.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis can be challenging, and it may lead to complications such as carpal tunnel syndrome or inflammation in other areas of the body. In some cases, there is an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. However, managing the condition early on can help reduce the risk of these complications. It is important for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis to stay active and engage in activities they enjoy, while also listening to their bodies and not pushing themselves too hard.

For those seeking further support and information about arthritis, resources are available on the NHS website and the Versus Arthritis website. The free Versus Arthritis helpline is also available for assistance. Rheumatoid arthritis may present challenges, but with the right management and support, individuals like Adam Thomas can continue to pursue their passions and live fulfilling lives.

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