With 10 million people in the UK living with arthritis, it’s no surprise the degenerative disease has earned itself a household name. But as many sufferers struggle with everyday tasks such as driving, cooking and dressing, the devastating impact of arthritis on the day-to-day lives of many people is at risk of being normalised.

Occurring when joints wear out, arthritis can cause severe pain, swellings, joint deformity, stiffness and a loss of function in the affected area. Those suffering with arthritis of the hand may find tasks – from holding pans to buttoning shirts – can become impossible.

For patients of Mr Southgate, hand specialist at the Nuffield Health Bournemouth Hospital, it is the little things affected by the disease that matter most.

He says: “Many of my patients miss being able to do everyday, basic things like lifting a kettle, getting dressed, preparing food and driving, without feeling severe pain. Tasks like this are usually heavily affected by arthritis and can really limit a person’s independence.

“However, there are options available. In some instances, it is possible to replace all the worn out joints in the fingers and wrist so the patient can regain the function of their hand, depending on how the soft tissues repair and what hand therapy they do afterwards. This process is called ‘Replacement Arthroplasty’.

“Another option, usually used for thumb-based arthritis, is an ‘Excision Arthroplasty’, where the joint is fully removed and fibrous scar tissue forms, allowing the thumb to retain movement. There’s also the possibility of fusing the joint together, removing the pain because it cannot move.

“However, for any patient, I would always recommend investigating ‘non-invasive’ treatment options first. Hand therapy, splints, analgesics, drug treatments and steroid injections can all be very effective in managing arthritic symptoms. I see it as a huge part of my job to find out what each of my patient’s goals are in seeking treatment and outline what options are available to enable them to achieve their goals.”

To maintain independence while managing arthritic symptoms, Mr Southgate recommends researching how to adapt everyday tasks to make life easier.

He explains: “The Nuffield team take a very holistic approach to treating a patient; hand therapists, for example, make a huge difference both in helping patients avoid surgery and in the rehabilitation following any hand operation. There are many recommendations that can be explored to help make everyday life easier. For example, instead of straining potatoes by holding and tilting a saucepan, cook vegetables in a basket you can lift out with your vegetables already in.

“For those with arthritis of the thumb, the thumb mechanism called the ‘key pinch’ can be affected, but there are things you can put on your keys to make them easier to grip.”

He added: “There are lots of different treatment options to explore, no matter what stage the arthritis has progressed to. I had one patient who has suffered severe arthritic pain for about 12 years, and after treatment at Nuffield they were delighted to be able to move their joints again. The process of helping a patient maintain their independence is extremely rewarding.”

Those interested in booking a free, no obligation, confidential assessment with Mr Southgate are invited to call customer services on 01202 232931 or visit nuffieldhealth.com/hospitals/bournemouth