Arthritis and COVID-19 - your questions answered

What's on this page:

We’re getting questions and comments about COVID-19 and arthritis across our online community, social media channels and helpline.

Bringing together the latest official advice and guidance, we’ve answered your most common questions.

Remember, you can get in touch at any time. Call our free Helpline on 0800 5200 520, or email helpline@versusarthritis.org (Mon-Fri 9am – 8pm), chat to COVA, our COVID-19 virtual assistant by selecting the purple icon at the bottom of this page, or connect with others on our online community. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

What's happening with elective surgery?

Elective surgery is due to restart. But, it’s important to bear in mind that it’ll probably be some time before this service starts up properly.

The British Orthopaedic Association and NHS England are working hard to ensure there’s clear guidance on getting the service up and running safely.

In order to cope with the backlog of surgeries, they are also developing a clear prioritisation list to make sure that essential surgeries are being carried out as quickly as possible.

It’ll be a while yet before the service returns to normal, and it’s likely that there’ll be differences across the regions. But we’ll make sure to keep you updated.

For more information on elective surgeries, see the British Orthopaedic Association’s coronavirus FAQs.

I take methotrexate/DMARDS/other drugs that suppress my immune system. Should I stop taking it?

The current advice is that you should not stop taking your medications unless advised to do so by your rheumatologist or rheumatology nurse.

By stopping your medication, you're more likely to have a flare, which could make you more likely to pick up an infection.

If you have concerns about your medication, speak to a member of your healthcare team.

COVID-19 advice for people taking steroids

Read the latest guidance about steroids and COVID-19.

Flu and pneumonia vaccinations

If you've not had your annual flu vaccine, we would recommend you do so as soon as possible. This can be arranged through your GP or pharmacist.

Speak to your healthcare team to find out if you need the pneumonia vaccine.

Should I take Ibuprofen?

There’s been some confusion as to whether or not it’s safe to take ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). The advice from the NHS is:

“The Commission on Human Medicines has now confirmed there is no clear evidence that using ibuprofen to treat symptoms such as a high temperature makes coronavirus worse.

You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat symptoms of coronavirus. Try paracetamol first if you can, as it has fewer side effects than ibuprofen and is the safer choice for most people.

Always follow the instructions that come with your medicine.” Read more on the NHS website.

I'm worried about my child who has an autoimmune condition. What's the advice for children?

The advice for children is the same as adults. The good news is that it doesn’t seem to affect children as severely. However, it's still important for children to wash their hands as they may be able to pass the virus on to adults.

See the latest advice for parents from The Scottish Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology Network (SPARN).

Read Public Health England's guidance for parents and carers supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing.

Are there any arthritis treatments that might help treat people with COVID-19?

At present, there are no drug treatments that are proven to be effective in the treatment of people with COVID-19. Because it could take many years to develop a new targeted treatment ‘from scratch’, research has been commissioned to find out whether existing drugs could be repurposed.

One of the drugs which is being investigated is hydroxychloroquine – originally an antimalarial drug that’s also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and lupus.

Early studies have produced mixed results but the drug, among others, is now being included in a major clinical trial, backed by the UK government, that aims to find out if hydroxychloroquine could play a part in the treatment of COVID-19.

Find out more about the RECOVERY trial.

What's the impact of coronavirus on Versus Arthritis research?

We know that the coronavirus will have a serious impact on people with arthritis, our research and our researchers. We are committed to working with our communities to find the best possible solutions for us all. Read this message from Stephen Simpson, Director of Research to find out more.

Here is a list of frequently asked questions about the impact of coronavirus on Versus Arthritis Research (PDF, 113 KB).

We are supporting and promoting two global COVID-19 initiatives, aimed at improving knowledge of how COVID-19 affects people with arthritis and related conditions.

Where can I find out the latest about Versus Arthritis events?

Check our Events page and the In Your Area section for the latest information on local activities. Read our update on face to face services.

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter to get regular updates on our services, support and our latest coronavirus updates.

Sign up

Support our services

Due to the coronavirus, people living with arthritis are relying on our services and support more than ever.

Donate now