Arthritis and COVID-19 - your questions answered
What's on this page:
- What's happening with elective surgery?
- Should I stop taking my drugs?
- Steroid information
- Flu and pneumonia vaccinations
- Should I take Ibuprofen?
- What's the advice for children?
- Are there any arthritis treatments that might help treat people with COVID-19?
- What's the impact of coronavirus on Versus Arthritis research?
- Where can I find out the latest about Versus Arthritis events?
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 firstname.lastname@example.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?
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Where can I find out the latest about Versus Arthritis events?