Arthritis can be a burden not just physically but financially as well, as sufferers may lose potential earnings from work due to absences prompted by pain associated with the disease.
About 10 million people in the U.K. suffer from arthritis. Of these, nearly 700,000 have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is characterized by the inflammation of the joints that could lead to bone erosion, joint deformity and damage to organs including the kidney, heart and lungs.
The condition, which is caused by the body's immune system attacking the joint tissues, can be very painful that sufferers find it difficult to do otherwise simple tasks such as bathing and walking, this appears to be the reason why individuals suffering from the condition are more likely to skip work than their healthy colleagues.
The British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) said that RA affects the jobs of individuals suffering from the condition. The BSR has launched the campaign "Simple Tasks" to raise awareness about the impact of rheumatic conditions, highlight the crucial role of rheumatologists and health professionals, as well as emphasize the importance of seeking appropriate treatment during the so called "window of opportunity," or the first few weeks following the onset of symptoms to prevent long term complications.
Compared with their healthy peers who only take about 6.5 days off work per year, individuals diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis take off an average of 40 days from work annually. For the period 2006 to 2007, ten million working days were lost because of the disease and this cost the society an estimated amount of £5.7 billion per year.
The condition also forces one fifth of the sufferers to change career and one third will stop working within two years after the onset of the symptoms. Of those who stopped working, half will be unemployed within 10 years.
The cost associated with rheumatoid arthritis as a primary cause of absences and unemployment costs about £1.8 billion per year. As for medical costs, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis costs around £689 million annually.
British Society for Rheumatology president Simon Bowman said that seeking treatment within 12-weeks after onset of RA symptoms is crucial as evidence shows this can significantly reduce odds for long term damage.
"Treating patients with these conditions early can enable people to continue doing the things that are important to them such as keeping a job, remaining independent, raising their children," Bowman said.