Living with a long-term condition brings challenges and it's important to have the confidence, support and information to take control of your condition. This is called self care, which means looking after yourself in a healthy way, whether it’s taking your medicine properly or doing some exercise.

Self care doesn't mean you need to manage on your own. You can expect lots of support from the NHS, including:

  • healthy lifestyle support: helping you improve your diet and exercise regime
  • information: advice about your condition and its treatment
  • training: helping you feel more confident about living with your condition
  • tools and equipment: making life easier at home
  • support networks: help with finding people to share your experiences with  

20 painful health conditions - Live Well - symptoms and treatments    

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Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation within a joint.

In the UK, around 10 million people have arthritis. The condition affects people of all ages including children. There are many different types of arthritis that cause a wide range of symptoms. Two of the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the UK, affecting an estimated 8.5 million people. In people affected by osteoarthritis, the cartilage (connective tissue) between their bones gradually wastes away, leading to painful rubbing of bone on bone in the joints. The most frequently affected joints are in the hands, spine, knees and hips. Osteoarthritis often develops in people who are over 50 years of age. However, it can develop at any age as a result of an injury or another joint-related condition. Read more about osteoarthritis.

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a more severe, but less common, form of arthritis than osteoarthritis. It occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys the affected joints, causing pain and swelling to occur. This can lead to a reduction in movement and the breakdown of bone and cartilage. In the UK, rheumatoid arthritis affects around 400,000 people, and often starts in people between the ages of 40 and 50 years old. Women are three times more likely to be affected by the condition than men. Read more about rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms of arthritis

There are many different symptoms of arthritis and the symptoms you experience will vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. However, common arthritic symptoms include:

  • joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
  • inflammation in and around the joints
  • restricted movement of the joints
  • warmth and redness of the skin over the affected joint
  • weakness and muscle wasting

Living with Arthritis

If you have arthritis, there are a number of things you can do to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.For example, you can:

  • control your weight to ease pressure on your joints
  • avoid stress or injury to your joints to prevent or reduce the severity of osteoarthritis
  • ensure good posture to strengthen healthy joint structure
  • use physiotherapy and a walking stick or cane to help prevent your condition getting worse
  • ensure that you regularly undertake weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, to help prevent osteoarthritis. This type of exercise will increase the strength of the muscles that support your joints


Find out more on the NHS website.

Asthma is a common long-term condition that can cause a cough, wheezing, and breathlessness. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person. Asthma can be controlled well in most people most of the time.

What is asthma?

Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways. These are the small tubes, called bronchi, which carry air in and out of the lungs. If you have asthma, the bronchi will be inflamed and more sensitive than normal.

When you come into contact with something that irritates your lungs, known as a trigger (see below), your airways become narrow, the muscles around them tighten and there is an increase in the production of sticky mucus (phlegm). This leads to symptoms including:

  • difficulty breathing
  • wheezing and coughing
  • a tight chest 

Your asthma may get better or worse at different times. There may be periods when you have asthma symptoms, but in between you may be generally well, even for many years. There are some things you can do to help keep your asthma under control. Find out more on the NHS website

Dementia can affect the whole life of the person who has it, as well as their family. If you have been diagnosed with dementia, or you are caring for someone with the condition, remember that there is advice and support available to help you live well.

Even if you have suspected for a while that you or someone you love might have dementia, the diagnosis may come as a shock. People with dementia should try to remain as independent as possible and continue to enjoy their usual activities.

Living a healthy lifestyle is important for everyone, including people with dementia, and is the best way to help prevent dementia. Eating well and exercising are important for everyone to live well. Changes in the way people eat can happen, particularly if someone with dementia is struggling to find the words to ask for food, which can result in weight loss and poor nutrition. The Live Well section of the NHS website has health and wellbeing information and advice for everyone.

Find out more on the NHS website.

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high.

The two main types of diabetes are:

In the UK, diabetes affects approximately 2.9 million people. There are also thought to be around 850,000 people with undiagnosed diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes

The main symptoms of diabetes are:

  • feeling very thirsty
  • urinating frequently, particularly at night
  • feeling very tired
  • weight loss and loss of muscle bulk.


Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly, over weeks or even days. Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising because early symptoms tend to be general.

The NHS website has advice on living well with diabetes.

boy in a wheelchair

Some people are born with a condition that affects the way that they grow and develop

man in a suit

For other people a condition is an illness or medical problem


Some health conditions last a long time


Some conditions develop as you get older


For easy read information: Ask our Strategic Health Facilitator.  Ring 01332 268445