Exercise and weight loss are key to fighting crippling arthritis, says health watchdog

Arthritis patients will be told by the NHS to lose weight and exercise as the main therapies for their condition under new clinical guidelines.

Exercise is a better option to relieve pain caused by osteoarthritis than painkillers like acetaminophen, the health watchdog says.

Moving millions of patients with the condition onto an exercise regimen could save billions of pounds of NHS money by reducing prescriptions for stronger painkillers, notes the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

Starting exercise programs may make the pain worse for a while, but this should settle down.

More than 10 million people in the UK have arthritis. Osteoarthritis, which causes joints to become stiff and painful, is the most common form of the condition, affecting 8.5 m.

Arthritis costs the NHS £10 billion a year, with 80 per cent of patients being prescribed painkillers.

Physical activity may be a better option for pain relief than painkillers like acetaminophen, says health watchdog

The guidelines provide recommendations on drug use, such as offering non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but not acetaminophen or strong opioids.

dr. Paul Chrisp, from Nice, said: ‘This is because new evidence has shown that there is little or no benefit to people’s quality of life, pain or psychological distress and especially in the case of strong opioids there was evidence that they can cause harm. cause. in the longer term, including possible addiction.’

The guidance tells doctors to self-diagnose osteoarthritis without further testing in people 45 or older who have activity-related joint pain.

Patients should also not have morning stiffness, or morning stiffness that lasts no longer than 30 minutes, to be diagnosed this way.

The draft guideline states that people can receive customized exercise programmes, explaining that ‘regular and consistent exercise, even if it may initially cause discomfort, is beneficial for their joints’.

More than 10 million people in the UK have arthritis.  Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease

More than 10 million people in the UK have arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease

Prolonged exercise also magnifies benefits, the guideline adds.

When it comes to weight loss, people are told that “any amount of weight loss is probably beneficial, but losing 10 percent of their body weight is probably better than 5 percent.”

People may also be referred for hip or knee replacement if their condition cannot be treated by other means, and referrals should not be delayed due to age, gender, or obesity.

dr. Chrisp added: ‘Osteoarthritis can cause people discomfort and prevent them from doing some of their normal daily activities.

“However, there is evidence to show that muscle strengthening and aerobic exercise can have an impact not only on managing the condition, but also improving people’s quality of life.

“The start of that journey can be uncomfortable for some people at first, and they need to be supported and provided with enough information to help them manage their condition over a long period of time.

“While topical and sometimes oral NSAIDs remain an important treatment option for osteoarthritis, we have decided not to recommend some pain medications, such as acetaminophen and some opioids for osteoarthritis.”

Tracey Loftis, director of policy and public affairs at the charity Versus Arthritis, said: ‘We have seen firsthand the benefits people with osteoarthritis can get from accessing appropriate physical activity, especially in groups.

‘Something like exercise can improve a person’s mobility, help manage pain and reduce feelings of isolation.

“But our own research on support for people with osteoarthritis found that far too many people did not have their condition regularly assessed by health care professionals, and even fewer had the opportunity to access support with physical activity.

‘Due to the lack of alternatives, people are in many cases stuck on painkillers that do not help them lead a pain-free life.

“While we welcome the draft guidelines from Nice, healthcare professionals need more resources and support to better understand their role in promoting treatments such as physical activity for people with osteoarthritis.

“Clearly, people with arthritis need to be given a bigger voice so that their health needs aren’t ignored.”


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects around 400,000 people in the UK

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects around 400,000 people in the UK

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects approximately 400,000 people in the UK and nearly 1.3 million adults in the US.

Women are up to three times more likely to develop the condition than men. Those with a family history of rheumatoid arthritis are also more vulnerable.

It is a long-term disease in which the immune system causes the body to attack itself, causing painful, swollen and stiff joints.

RA, the second most common form of arthritis that often begins between the ages of 40 and 50, tends to affect the hands, wrists, and knees.

Scientists are currently unsure about the exact cause of RA, but smoking, eating a lot of red meat, and coffee drinkers are at greater risk.

A cure has yet to be found, but treatments are available and have been proven to help slow the progressive condition.

RA is a complex autoimmune disease that is diagnosed and treated by a second-line rheumatologist and the patient is regularly monitored by a multidisciplinary team led by a consultant in the hospital.

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