11th October 2022

World Arthritis Day - 12 October 22

This is Sam's story.

I am a nurse of over 35 years’ experience, and I have worked for DCHS since 2004. I am now 54 years old, and my story is about the development of osteoarthritis and how it crept up on me.

The early days

In about 2010 I started to get a niggling pain in my left groin. At first, I thought it was muscular and blamed the keep fit that I was doing at the time. I did all the things that I should, I rested, and I took painkillers, but it didn’t get any better. With a full-time job and a young family life was busy.

Sometimes people would comment on a limp I had but I just put it down to being tired and not walking properly. Eventually the pain was waking me up and I gave in and went to the GP. He sent me for x-rays, and these showed how affected my hip was with osteoarthritis and eventually in 2012 I had the left hip replaced. It was a miracle and almost immediate relief from the pain was amazing.

Ten years on

Scroll forward to 2020 and the arrival of pain in my right hip. This time we were in a pandemic, and I also had a husband who was unwell. Again, the deterioration in my right hip was gradual and over time this leg became two inches shorter than the left!! The pain was tremendous, and I was only able to get about on crutches.

In October 2021 I was again operated on and now I am the proud owner of two replacement hips. The rehab was slow this time but eventually I got back on my feet (excuse the pun) and now I am currently pain free.


I do however have osteo-arthritis in my pelvis and my fingers and worryingly these can’t be replaced. Some days all my joint’s ache and getting out of bed can be a creaky challenge. Some days I do have to balance being sat at the computer working from home too long with moderate exercise to keep the joints strong and heart healthy.

Reasonable adjustment passport and other workplace support

Back in 2018/19 I moved into a new role and my then manager asked me if I had reasonable adjustment passport (RAP). Although as a leader I had supported many members of my team to complete a RAP but never had I considered myself to need one. However, once I started completing it I realised that not only did I have the arthritis that caused me some disability but I also had had previous heart surgery that had left me with a slightly weakened heart that needing monitoring and warfarin that gave me a risk of excessive bleeding.

The same manager also told me about the Disability and Long-term Condition staff network and that maybe I would find like-minded people who could help support me with my health.

Jump to this year and after almost 11 months off I have been supported to return to work and encouraged to apply for the role of lead for this staff network. Without the support of managers who not only look at me as an employee but also as a person with conditions that need to be supported, I doubt I would be doing as good a job as I am.

For more information on arthritis and how to get help go to www.versusarthritis.org

Research | Current research, achievements and policies (versusarthritis.org)

What is arthritis?

The word arthritis is used to describe pain, swelling and stiffness in a joint or joints. Arthritis isn’t a single condition and there are several different types.

  • Around 10 million people in the UK are thought to have arthritis. It can affect people of all ages – even children and teenagers. Some forms of arthritis are more common in older people.
  • If you have pain in or around a joint or joints that doesn’t go away after a few days, you should see a doctor. Finding out what’s causing your pain is key to finding the right treatment and self-help options.
  • Although there’s no cure for arthritis, treatments have improved greatly in recent years and, for many types of arthritis, particularly inflammatory arthritis, there’s a clear benefit in starting treatment at an early stage.
  • It may be difficult to say what has caused your arthritis. There are several factors that can increase the risk of each type of arthritis. It could be that the genes you inherited from your parents or grandparents made you more likely to get arthritis.
  • Arthritis can make life tough by causing pain and making it harder to get about. The symptoms of arthritis can vary from week to week, and even from day to day. Many types, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, are long-term conditions.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It is estimated that around 8.75 million people in the UK have seen a doctor about osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis starts with the roughening of cartilage.

If this happens, the body can put in place a ‘repair’ process to try to make up for the loss of this important substance. The following can then happen:

  • Tiny bits of extra bone, called osteophytes, can grow at the ends of a bone within a joint.
  • There can be an increase in the amount of thick fluid inside the joint.
  • The joint capsule can stretch, and the joint may lose its shape.

Sometimes, the early stages of osteoarthritis can happen without causing much pain or trouble. However, it can lead to damage inside a joint, as well as pain and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis is more common in women and usually affects people from the age of 45 onwards.

The parts of the body most commonly affected are the knees, hands, hips, and back.

Keeping active will help you maintain a healthy weight, and this will reduce the pressure on your joints. Doing regular exercise will keep muscles around a joint strong, and this will help to support and stabilise a joint affected by osteoarthritis.

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause painful swelling in joints. It typically affects the big toe, but it can also affect other joints in the body.

Joints affected by gout can become red and hot. The skin may also look shiny and can peel.

It’s caused by having too much urate, otherwise known as uric acid, in the body. We all have a certain amount of urate in our body.

However, being overweight or eating and drinking too much of certain types of food and alcoholic drinks can cause some people to have more urate in their bodies. The genes you inherit can make you more likely to develop gout.

If it reaches a high level, urate can form into crystals that remain in and around the joint. They can be there for a while without causing any problems and even without the person realising they are there.

A knock to a part of the body or having a fever can lead to the crystals falling into the soft part of the joint. This will cause pain and swelling.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis. It is what is known as an auto-immune condition.

The immune system is the body’s natural self-defence system, and it protects us from infections and illness. When someone has an auto-immune condition, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy tissues, such as the joints, causing inflammation.

Inflammation is normally an important tool in the immune system. It occurs when the body sends extra blood and fluid to an area to fight an infection. This is what is happening for example if you have a cut that gets infected, and the skin around it becomes swollen and a different colour.

However, in rheumatoid arthritis the inflammation and extra fluid in a joint can cause the following problems:

  • It can make moving the joint difficult and painful.
  • Chemicals in the fluid can damage the bone and joint.
  • The extra fluid can stretch the joint capsule. Whenever a joint capsule is stretched, it never quite returns to its original position.
  • Chemicals in the fluid can irritate nerve endings, which can be painful.

As well as causing pain and stiffness, inflammation can cause permanent damage to a joint. Starting effective treatment early on can help to minimise damage.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can include:

  • swollen and tender joints
  • swelling and stiffness in joints in the morning that lasts for longer than half an hour
  • severe tiredness, also called fatigue
  • a general feeling of being unwell.