Arthritis Research UK said 22 per cent of Brits have a poor understanding of the condition
The father of a toddler who has arthritis has called for better awareness of the condition.
Peter Jupp, whose three-year-old daughter Rosie suffers from juvenile idiopathic arthritis, spoke after a poll found a quarter of British adults have a poor understanding of the condition.
He said that while there is no cure for the condition, early diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference to sufferers.
Mr Jupp, from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, said he took Rosie to the doctors after noticing that she began to wince in pain when they encouraged her to walk around as normal.
"Rosie's symptoms rapidly got worse and within a matter of weeks she would begin most mornings crying in what seemed like pain, and refusing to get up from the sofa after she'd had her milk," he said.
"We have had to watch Rosie go through so much and as parents it has been heart breaking so see her undergo the constant hospital visits and tests to get a diagnosis. There needs to be a greater social awareness of the disease. There is currently no cure for the chronic condition but without the pioneering research by Arthritis Research UK my little girl - and many other children like her - would undoubtedly be wheelchair-bound."
The survey, of 2,000 adults by Arthritis Research UK, found that 22% of Brits have a poor understanding of the condition - despite it affecting 10 million people across the UK, including 15,000 children.
The charity said that it was "concerned" that many people living with joint pain are unaware of the importance of early diagnosis.
Alan Silman, medical director at the charity, said: "It is particularly concerning that three in 10 people in Britain believe that nothing much can be done to treat arthritis and that people affected just have to live with joint pain, and that the same proportion would wait a few weeks before consulting a healthcare professional about pain in their joints.
"Early diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference to the prognosis and outcome of inflammatory arthritis. There may be many people in the UK living with painful joints and reduced quality of life who have not consulted their GP and are not aware of the many treatments and self-help measures that could drastically relieve their pain."