Arthritis Advocacy: Taking Charge of Your Hands

Living with arthritis isn’t just about the achy joints – it’s about learning to navigate a system that doesn’t always understand what you go through. Between battling with insurance companies, sorting out work, and even explaining things to well-meaning family, taking charge of your care is crucial.

Why Seeing Me as Your Advocate Matters

  • Challenging the “Just Getting Old” Myth: It’s frustrating when people dismiss your arthritis as nothing more than normal ageing. I’m here to advocate for you and get people to understand that this is a very real condition.
  • Getting the Right Help: No one knows your hands better than you. By working together, we can find the treatments or support options that are right for you, ensuring your needs are met.
  • Finding Your Tribe: Connecting with other arthritis warriors can be a lifesaver. I can point you in the direction of support groups and resources so you realise you’re not alone in this.
  • Making a Difference: Sharing your story puts a human face on arthritis. Whether it’s taking part in awareness campaigns or contacting your MP, I believe our voices can shape policies and make things better for all of us.

Your Self-Advocacy Toolkit

Tackling Healthcare Head-On

  • Prep Work is Your Secret Weapon: Before appointments, write down questions, keep a pain diary, and have your medication list ready. This allows us to make the most of our time together.
  • Asking Questions is Key: Don’t hesitate to ask me about alternative treatments, seek second opinions, or even ask me to explain things again in plain English.
  • Partnership, Not Patientship: Open communication with me makes a world of difference. You’ll feel like you’re part of the decision-making team, not just someone being told what to do.

Navigating the Workplace

  • Knowing Your Rights: I can help you understand legislation like the Equality Act and how it applies to your rights for workplace adjustments.
  • Talking it Through: Meeting with your boss might seem daunting, but we can work together to explain how arthritis affects your work and explore solutions.
  • Keeping Records: Keep track of conversations, any agreed work changes, and any challenges you face. This helps me support you and advocate on your behalf.

Advocacy Within Your Inner Circle

  • Boundary Setting is Allowed: Don’t feel bad saying “no” to that social event or asking for help with chores. Protecting your energy levels is important in managing your condition.
  • Spreading Knowledge: I can provide resources about arthritis that you can share with your family so they better understand what you’re experiencing.
  • Asking for Help Isn’t Weakness: Reaching out, whether for a listening ear or practical help, lets your support network know when you need them and allows me to offer guidance if needed.

Finding Your Advocate Voice

  • Community is Everything: I can put you in touch with arthritis support groups, even online ones, for a sense of community and shared experiences.
  • Resources, Please!: Arthritis charities offer loads of practical advice and tools to boost your advocacy skills.
  • Telling Your Story: Sharing your experiences shows others the real impact of arthritis and helps fight stigma.

You Are Not Alone

Learning to advocate for yourself is empowering and a crucial part of managing your arthritis. Remember, I’m on your team! Utilise the resources available, lean on your community, and don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard!

Meet Alistair Phillips, Your Orthopaedic Hand and Trauma Surgeon

Ali Phillips is a fellowship-trained hand surgeon dedicated to educating and empowering his patients. He believes in clear information and shared decision-making. When not in the clinic, you might find him wing foiling or on a cycling adventure. Connect: @ali.thehandsurgeon on IG, Twitter/X, Threads, FB and TikTok