Patients and staff stride out to raise cash and awareness
Medics and patients are joining forces with staff from two hospitals for a walk to raise awareness of a painful from of arthritis which affects young people.
The walkers are also hoping to raise cash to help fund a national campaign to raise awareness about the condition – ankylosing spondylitis – among GPs.
Dr Arumugam Moorthy, a consultant rheumatologist from Leicester's hospitals, will be among doctors joining the event at the Rosliston Forestry Centre, in Derbyshire, on Saturday.
"Ankylosing spondylitis is an under-recognised, painful and debilitating condition in young men and women," he said.
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"There is a huge delay in diagnosis – it can be years before we see patients.
"We need to increase awareness and understanding among health professionals as well as the general pubic.
"This will be key to diagnosing the condition earlier as swift treatment will revolutionise a patient's quality of life.
"I am proud to be part of this walk."
Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis which most commonly affects the spine. Symptoms usually start when people are in their late teens or early 20s.
There is no cure for the condition but it can be managed with medication and exercise.
If left untreated, it can cause irreversible spinal damage.
Patient Geoff Gaisford, of Syston, who has suffered from ankylosing spondylitis since he was 16, will be among those taking part in the walk.
Mr Gaisford, now 70, said: "Doctors just kept putting it down to growing pains.
"I was finally diagnosed when I was 39 and by that time my spine was damaged.
"The place where my spine comes into contact with my pelvis has fused and my spine has calcified. The condition has also damaged by bowel."
Mr Gaisford, who helped to set up a local group of the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (Nass), and Dr Moorthy will be joined by doctors and patients from the Royal Derby Hospitals and Queen's Hospital in Burton on Trent.
Mr Gaisford said: "As well as raising awareness the aim is to have a good day."
Nass director Debbie Cook said: "I am delighted to have the support of our local rheumatologists and groups.
"Ankylosing spondylitis is not a well known condition.
"This is a great opportunity for those affected to walk and talk with others."
Anyone is invited to join the walk and there are prizes for the oldest, youngest and best fancy dress. For more, visit:
To sponsor Dr Moorthy, visit: