older person's hands on keyboard

Help is at hand – Steve Buissinne/Pixabay

Rheumatoid arthritis is a big problem in Australia, affecting about 458,000 people. That’s 1.9% of the population. It’s an auto-immune disease that causes pain and swelling of the joints, and can strike at any age. In order to manage it, early diagnosis and treatment is vital.

Now Arthritis Australia has designed a new, free website to help people living with rheumatoid arthritis, wherever they live.

Andrew Mills, CEO of Arthritis Australia said, ‘Everyone’s journey with rheumatoid arthritis is different. Prior to this program, we found many people were using Doctor Google to make important decisions based on incorrect, irrelevant or alarming information.’

Mr Mills said his organisation spoke to a wide range of people living with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as state groups and respected international arthritis peers, with the aim of developing a ‘gold standard’ patient support website that could ‘meet each person where they are on their journey’.

He explained that the new site provides people with ‘relevant, tailored, evidence-based information regardless of what drug they are currently on or how long they have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.’

knee xray

Arthritic knee x ray – Dr Manuel Gonzalez Reyes/Pixabay

Wendy Favorito has lived with rheumatoid arthritis since the age of six, and was involved with trials for the site. ‘The landscape is constantly changing for the management of inflammatory arthritis,’ she said. ‘It’s fantastic that there’s now a one-stop-shop for robust and reliable information.’

Rheumatologist Professor Susanna Proudman is also enthusiastic about the website, describing it as a game-changer. ‘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,’ she said.

‘The MyRA website provides a holistic resource, trusted support and will save people a lot of time going down rabbit holes that may offer unproven or even unsafe advice,’ she continued. ‘People with rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from the wisdom of others living with RA who have already been down the same path.’

The new site, which has been independently developed for Australian users, 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 also looks at how to build good relationships with healthcare teams and provides updates about COVID-19. Unlike other online resources, the website offers personalised information, if patients choose to register.

RA website

MyRA website – https://myra.org.au

President of the Australian Rheumatology Association, Professor Catherine Hill, said her organisation was proud to endorse the new website.

‘By providing people with quality information, some simple management skills and the opportunity to share the experience of others,’ she said, ‘we can help everyone live a better life with rheumatoid arthritis.’

More information can be found at the website.

You can also contact the National Arthritis Infoline: 1800 011 041.