More than 450,000 Australians live with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes pain and swelling of the joints.
The disease can strike at any age, including during childhood, and can greatly impact on a person's wellbeing. However, with early diagnosis and the right treatment, most people with rheumatoid arthritis can lead full and active lives.
Arthritis Australia, in partnership with the Australian Rheumatology Association, has launched a new online rheumatoid arthritis patient-support website to help people seize control and become active participants in their journey with the disease.
"Everyone's journey with rheumatoid arthritis is different. Some people are at the starting point, while others have been living with arthritis for decades," said Andrew Mills, chief executive of Arthritis Australia.
"Prior to this program, we found many people were either using 'doctor google' to make important decisions based on incorrect, irrelevant or alarming information, joining online forums without independent and trusted moderation, or joining programs that may only be suitable at a particular point in time due to the medication they are using."
The MyRA website was developed in collaboration with state and territory-based arthritis organisations to provide a holistic patient-support system. It covers topics such as symptoms, risks, treatment options, diet, exercise, day to day tips, support services and how to manage pain, mental health and fatigue. It looks at how to build good relationships with healthcare teams and provides updates about COVID-19. The website also links through to the National Arthritis Infoline.
"A fantastic feature is the way the online patient-support website then links people with arthritis organisations nationwide and relevant local information, educational events, fitness activities, webinars and other support services, including trained health educators," said Mr Mills.
Rheumatologist, Prof. Susanna Proudman said the holistic approach is a game-changer for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
"Patients may only have face to face time with their rheumatologist for a few hours each year and GPs can't be expected to cover everything outside of that. The MyRA website provides a holistic resource, trusted support and will save people a lot of time going down rabbit holes that they don't need to that may offer unproven or even unsafe advice. People with rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from the wisdom of others living with rheumatoid arthritis who have already been down the same path."
National Arthritis Infoline: 1800 011 041