03:52pm Saturday 19 October 2019

A third of people with arthritis in the UK are in so much pain they can’t have sex, according to a new survey

It reveals that pain is having a devastating impact on the everyday lives of the 10 million people in the UK who have arthritis. The survey of over 2,000 people with arthritis shows that pain is frequently preventing people from carrying out typical daily activities, such as making a cup of tea, going to the shops or even hugging a loved one.

It reveals that 63% of people with arthritis find it difficult to have sex when their pain is at its worst. 36% of respondents said pain actually prevents them from having intimate relationships.

With over half of respondents (57%) saying that their pain would have to be ‘unbearable’ for them to seek help from their doctor or specialist, Arthritis Care is concerned that millions of people are unnecessarily ‘suffering in silence’.

The charity is today calling on people to seek early support before pain takes over their lives.

Arthritis – a widely misunderstood disease – is the most common cause of chronic pain, with millions of people with arthritis having to endure limitations on their daily life.

‘Arthritis affects the whole family. It has a shocking impact on everyday activities which most people take for granted, such as sleeping or picking up the kids from school,’ says Neil Betteridge, chief executive of Arthritis Care.

‘Pain can damage people’s lives, as our survey indicates that an estimated three and a half million people (36%) with arthritis are unable to have intimate relationships. Even the occasional hug can prove unbearable. It is crucial that people seek help as soon as they can, rather than putting up with these unacceptable restrictions on life.’

Annakaisa has arthritis and says: ‘I find it quite humiliating to walk and move like a 100-year-old granny – even though I’m younger than 50. I’m also concerned about my husband’s needs because I’m never in the right mood for sex – too much pain, too cold, too tired… the list of excuses is endless.’

Paul, who also has arthritis, says: ‘It has completely changed my life. I have my own joinery company, but can no longer work in it. I cannot even pick up my beautiful new granddaughter and am unable to take any holidays because I cannot walk any distance at all.’

Denise, regularly experiences pain, and says: ‘Most days I feel I could sit and cry with the pain. I’m not a depressed person, but the intensity is sometimes overwhelming.’

The survey results have been published in time for Arthritis Care Week 2010, which runs from 24-30 May, and is the charity’s biggest annual awareness raising event.

To mark Arthritis Care Week, the actress Jane Asher, who is the president of Arthritis Care, has written an open letter to the editors of newspapers across the UK to highlight the debilitating pain that so many people are living with.

In the letter, Jane Asher says: ‘Many people think arthritis is something that is a “natural” part of ageing, but it can affect people of all ages, including babies and children. Pain is the most common symptom. Learning to cope with it can be very distressing and challenging, but I’m delighted to be able to tell your readers that plenty of support is available from my charity Arthritis Care.’

Other key findings of the survey are:

  • 65% of people said it is difficult to hug a loved one when pain is at its most severe
  • 94% of respondents said they hide their pain from their loved ones
  • 77% of people are unable to sleep through the night due to pain 
  • 65% of people have difficulty making a cup of tea when pain is at its most severe
  • 50% said pain prevents them from working
  • 64% said pain prevents them from looking after the house.

Information and support on how to cope with pain is available by calling the Arthritis Care Helpline free on 0808 800 4050, emailing Helplines@arthritiscare.org.uk or by visiting the website www.arthritiscare.org.uk

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