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World Arthritis Day – promoting awareness of rheumatic diseases

By Robert J Moots

World Arthritis Day is celebrated each year on the 12th of October. It was first established in 1996 by Arthritis and Rheumatism International with the aim to raise awareness of issues affecting people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases within the medical community, as well as the general population. Over 120 million people in Europe are affected by rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (EULAR), a huge number of people, with one in five Europeans under long-term treatment for rheumatism or arthritis (European Opinion Research Group EEIG).

A recent analysis of a US registry investigated patient improvement after hip replacement, when a hip joint is replaced surgically with a prosthetic implant. It is most commonly used for patients with osteoarthritis where their joints have failed and the patient suffers high levels of pain and low mobility. As with all surgery, there are a number of potential risks associated, including infection and pain, and there is a wide variation in patient satisfaction after the procedure. This treatment has come a long way from when it was first performed in 1960. Now, most people can resume normal activity six to eight weeks after surgery, but there are limitations, which are not often understood by patients when they choose to have the procedure. As younger patients are increasingly having this surgery, the management of their expectations is becoming more important. In terms of surgery, the bottom line a patient may want to know is how the surgery will affect their quality of life and the pain involved. Will the benefits outweigh the limitations?

Male Doctor Examining Male senior Patient With Hip Pain

This study had an additional aim to provide the data in a format that can be easily interpreted by both patients and policymakers, which was directly relevant to their concerns. The researchers recorded patient improvements in a number of daily activities, such as climbing stairs and getting in and out of cars, and followed up patients at two and five years after surgery. This data will hopefully be a good source of information for doctors, helping them better inform patients before they have the elective surgery. This should enable the patient to better understand the benefits and limitations of the procedure, so they can make a more informed decision with realistic expectations of the outcomes and long-term prognosis.

Scientific journals are crucial in expanding knowledge and improving treatments. However, the highly technical and scientific language used in these publications can be impenetrable to the layperson, who may just want to understand how the research relates directly to their disease. Science is primarily written for other scientific experts and only rarely directed at patients. Paradoxically, expert scientists and doctors are not often the best at communicating research to lay people — yet at the same time, they are the most trusted source of information for patients. At Rheumatology we would like to help address the gap between patient and expert understanding to aid patients in setting realistic goals for improvement.

Professor Robert J Moots is the Editor of the international peer review journal Rheumatology that publishes papers on range of rheumatological conditions, musculoskeletal medicine, surgery and translational research. He is a professor of rheumatology at the University of Liverpool, UK, and consultant rheumatologist at University Hospital, Aintree, Liverpool. His research interests lie in clinical and basic science aspects of inflammatory rheumatic diseases, from laboratory to bedside.

To mark World Arthritis day Rheumatology is highlighting “Patient-level clinically meaningful improvements in activities of daily living and pain after total hip arthroplasty: data from a large US institutional registry” by Jasvinder A. Singh and David G. Lewallen (available to read for free for a limited time). The paper evaluated the reduction of pain after a total hip arthroplasty (THA) operation (hip replacement), as well as the impact on improving patients’ activities of daily living.

Rheumatology is an international peer review journal publishing the highest quality scientific and clinical papers. The scope of Rheumatology includes a range of rheumatological conditions, musculoskeletal medicine, surgery and translational research. Rheumatology is the official journal of the British Society for Rheumatology.

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Image credit: Male Doctor Examining Male senior Patient With Hip Pain. © monkeybusinessimages via iStockphoto.

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