By Dr Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist
If you are reading this, it won't be a surprise.
I wouldn't bother with this blog if arthritis and rheumatology were high profile. I wouldn't bother if the general public understood the diseases I treat.
Knowledge and understanding of arthritis and rheumatic disease is poor. So we keep trying to improve awareness.
But, it's a slog.
I've been writing about the Don't Turn Your Back On It campaign. I encourage you to check out this website, with its symptom screener and an uncomplicated video to draw attention to an important cause of chronic back pain, Ankylosing Spondylitis.
Ankylosing Spondylitis is a classic rheumatic disease.
Unless you have it or have a close relative with it, you're likely to have never heard of it.
The disease name, as usual, is hard to say and hard to spell correctly.
Almost no one would be typing this into google when they're trying to work out the cause of their back pain, so a chronic back pain sufferer searching the net is unlikely to come across this disease.
Doctors, chiros, physios find it hard to diagnose and often don't think about the disease as it can present in non-specific ways.
The diagnosis is very delayed, up to a decade on average.
Patients with it suffer, from symptoms, from loss of ability to do things, and from the frustration of not having an answer.
Effective treatments are available, but the crucial step remains getting the sufferer to the experts who treat these diseases (in this case, rheumatologists). And unfortunately, there are so many barriers to this step.
As I said, a typical rheumatic disease.Dr Irwin Lim is a rheumatologist and a director of BJC Health. You should follow him on twitter here. Arthritis requires an integrated approach. We call this, Connected Care. Contact us.