Exercise and weight loss are key to fighting debilitating arthritis, Health Watchdog says
Arthritis sufferers are being urged by the NHS to lose weight and exercise as these are the main therapies for their condition under new clinical guidelines.
Physical activity may be a better option for pain relief than painkillers like acetaminophen, the health watchdog says.
Starting exercise programs may initially make the pain worse, but this should subside, notes the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).
The guidelines provide recommendations on the use of medicinal products, e.g. B. the supply of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but not acetaminophen or strong opioids.
Physical activity may be a better option for pain relief than painkillers like acetaminophen, the health watchdog says
dr Paul Chrisp, from Nice, said: “This is because new evidence has shown that there has been little or no improvement in people’s quality of life, pain or psychological distress, and particularly in the case of strong opioids there was evidence that they were harming long-term including possible addiction.’
Over 10 million people in the UK have arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease.
The guidelines tell doctors to self-diagnose osteoarthritis in people age 45 and older with activity-related joint pain without further testing.
Patients should also not have morning joint stiffness or morning stiffness that does not last more than 30 minutes to be diagnosed in this way.
The draft guidelines say people can be offered tailored exercise programs, stating that “regular and consistent exercise, while it may initially cause discomfort, is beneficial for their joints.”
Over 10 million people in the UK have arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease
Long-term training also increases benefits, the policy adds.
When it comes to weight loss, people are told that “any weight loss is probably beneficial, but losing 10 percent of their body weight is probably better than 5 percent.”
Patients may also be referred for a hip or knee replacement if their condition cannot be managed by other means, and referrals should not be deferred because of 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 that muscle strengthening and aerobic exercise not only have an impact on disease management, but can also provide people with an improved quality of life.
“Starting this journey can be uncomfortable for some people at first, and they should be supported and provided with enough information to help them manage their condition over a long period of time.
“Although topical and sometimes oral NSAIDs remain an important treatment option for osteoarthritis, we have made the decision not to recommend some pain medications, such as acetaminophen, and some opioids for osteoarthritis.”
Tracey Loftis, head of policy and public affairs at charity Versus Arthritis, said: “We have seen firsthand the benefits people with osteoarthritis can have from having access to appropriate physical activity, especially in a group setting.
“Something like exercise can improve a person’s mobility, help manage their pain and reduce feelings of isolation.
“But our own research into supporting people with osteoarthritis has shown that far too many people do not have their condition checked regularly by healthcare professionals, and even fewer have had the opportunity to seek physical activity support.
“The lack of alternatives means that in many cases people have to rely on painkillers that do not help them lead a pain-free life.
“While we welcome the draft Nice guidelines, healthcare professionals need more resources and support to better understand their role in promoting treatments such as physical activity for people with osteoarthritis.
“There is a clear need to make people with arthritis more vocal, so their health needs are not ignored.”