Coronavirus and managing pain at home - your questions answered

07 April 2020
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Dr Danny Murphy answers your frequently asked questions relating to coronavirus and managing pain at home. For further information, including assessing your risk and medication, read our dedicated coronavirus section.

Will my rheumatology team still be available?

Yes, although the service they offer you is likely to change during the coronavirus outbreak.

Rheumatology teams and GP surgeries are working as hard as they can to offer the best service to patients. To minimise the number of people coming into hospital and surgery, it’s likely you’ll be offered an alternative to face to face assessments or appointments.

Teams are using a mixture of telephone, video and email consultations to provide support and advice. There may be a delay in offering appointments or answering queries due to the increased demands on the NHS during this time.

It’s important to remember that if you’re unwell, have new or unusual symptoms that you’re concerned about, or really struggling despite taking your usual medication, you should contact your GP or rheumatology team for support.

My physio is cancelled, what exercises can you suggest for doing at home?

Whilst routine physio services are temporarily cancelled and social distancing means we can’t exercise as we used to, there are lots of exercises that you can do at home.

Also, exercise helps keep muscles strong, joints flexible, our heart and lungs healthy, and can be really helpful in reducing stress and anxiety and lifting our mood, if we’re feeling low.

A great place to start is the Versus Arthritis exercise content. You’ll find advice on exercises to help with pain in specific joints or muscles which anyone can do. All of the exercises have been developed with help from physiotherapists and patients.

There are also some great exercise videos available online. Joe Wicks has some brilliant videos including chair workouts and gentle exercises for older people  As with any new exercise, start small and build up gradually.

I am getting low on my prescription medication, what should I do?

Whilst the NHS is changing the way it works during the coronavirus outbreak, and access to pharmacies is more difficult than usual, don’t panic.

Plan ahead. Setting reminders on your phone or calendar can help stop you running out of medication. Try to give your GP or rheumatology team seven days’ notice when requesting your medicines as they may be busier than usual. Please don’t order more than you need; there’s enough medication available for everyone.

Most GP surgeries, rheumatology teams and pharmacies are asking patients to order medication online, although if you don’t have access to a computer, someone should be available to help on the telephone.

Whilst you might have to wait a little longer than usual at the pharmacy when collecting your medication, your pharmacist and their team are working as hard as they can to help. Please be patient with them.

If you’re self-isolating or you’ve been told that you shouldn’t leave the house during the coronavirus outbreak, please ask friends or family to collect your medicines, or ask your pharmacy about home delivery.

If you've run out of medication, don’t panic. Most medicines for arthritis work for a long time, so missing a few days is unlikely to cause a big problem. When you do get your medicine, start taking it again at your usual dose.

If you've run out of painkillers, remember you can buy paracetamol and some anti-inflammatories over the counter in pharmacies. It's important that you tell the pharmacist about the medicines that you're taking before buying any new medication.

Are there any diet tips that could help my pain?

Although there are no diets or dietary supplements that definitely help pain, some people do feel better when they change what they eat. But because people are all different and there are many different types of arthritis, what works for one person and one type of arthritis may not work for another.

If you have any type of arthritis you should try to eat:

  • a balanced diet to get the vitamins and nutrients you need
  • a more Mediterranean-style diet which includes fish, pulses, nuts, olive oil and plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • more omega-3 fatty acids, for example from oily fish .

Some important things to think about are:

  • your weight – if you’re overweight, losing some weight will reduce the strain on your joints, so you may find you don’t need to take painkillers quite so often.
  • whether your diet gives you the vitamins and minerals you need – a good diet can help to protect you against some possible side-effects of drugs.

We’re here for you

If you’re feeling isolated from family and friends during these uncertain times, we’re here for you.

  • If you would like to talk to someone, you can call our free helpline on 0800 5200 520 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm)
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