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12th October 2015

‘I couldn’t dance, I couldn’t ride my bike’

When Jane’s knee pain began tiring her out, she knew it was time to act. She was soon unable to teach dance classes or ride a bike.

As a school teacher who spends all day on her feet, arthritis had a profound impact on Jane’s quality of life. The discomfort and fatigue affected her job and stopped her from enjoying dance class and cycling.

I knew I had to do something when even the pain medication wasn’t helping, and it would get so bad I felt like crawling on the floor the day after dance class.”

Before long, the bike that had been a source of joy and freedom was being used as a clothes hanger. Something had to change.

Jane had a knee replacement operation in order to regain full movement and recapture the independence her arthritis had temporarily stolen from her.

She is not alone. Millions of people around the world are affected by osteoarthritis and, due to enhanced life expectancy, the numbers are on the rise. The WHO estimates that by 2020, osteoarthritis will be the fourth leading cause of disability.

‘Increases in life expectancy and ageing populations are expected to make osteoarthritis the fourth leading cause of disability by the year 2020. Joint replacement surgery, where available, provides effective relief’ – World Health Organisation

Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) affect around one quarter of all people in the European Union. That means that just about every family in Europe is affected in some way.

The impact on families can be considerable. Without the right medical or surgical help, young people with juvenile arthritis can struggle to keep up with the active lifestyles of their peers.

For middle-aged people, arthritis in the hip or knee can curtail their capacity to work and limit their ability to care for their families. Older people are at the highest risk of osteoarthritis. Severely limited mobility can cost people their independence, often requiring the support of family to carry out daily tasks.

World Arthritis Day takes place on 12 October. Click here find out more about causes, symptoms and caring for RMDs.