Keele experts offer top tips to help people with joint pain during Covid-19 pandemic

Keele University has launched a new guide for people coping with musculoskeletal pain and other long term conditions during the Covid-19 outbreak.

A team of physiotherapists, GPs, dieticians, patients and academics from Keele’s Impact Accelerator Unit team in the School of Primary, Community and Social Care, have united to write a top tips guide on how to stay active and keep well during lockdown.

Musculoskeletal conditions – including arthritis and back pain - affect 18.8 million people in the UK and experts were concerned that during these times of social distancing, shielding and self-isolation people will be staying at home and worrying about their joint pain symptoms getting worse, and what they can do about it.

The team has published a new tips sheet aimed at people over 70 suffering with joint pain and other long term health conditions. The guide has been produced using the very latest evidence and aims to offer help and support during these challenging times.

Dr Laura Swaithes joined the project with over 10 years of experience as a physiotherapist. She said: “During the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen some fantastic examples of community spirit and support for those with health conditions who are self-isolating or shielding. While health professionals are having to work in very different ways, it is important that those with health conditions are able to access support and evidence-informed messages about staying well during this time. These top tips may be useful to many people in the community who are supporting those with health conditions, including family members, friends, neighbours or volunteers.”

The advice covers ways to access trusted information, how to look after your mental wellbeing, how to keep moving despite being in lockdown, and how accessing routine healthcare and getting medication may be different right now.

Dr Jonathan Quicke, a researcher at Keele University and a physiotherapist at the Haywood Hospital in Burslem, has a specialist interest in supporting adults with joint pain to stay active, maintain a healthy weight and live well. He said: “With the current social restrictions many people with joint pain and additional health conditions have concerns about their health and wellbeing. The important news is there is lots of helpful support available ranging from advice about how to access our local general practitioner to ways to keep moving and sleep well. These top tips have been created by doctors, physiotherapists, dietitians and members of the public and I believe are a really useful and reliable source of health information.”

The top tips were put together with local patients. Mike Brooks has been working closely with Keele University and the Haywood Hospital for several years to make sure that resources stay relevant and interesting to the general public. Mike said: “I have found the top tips a valuable reminder that as long term sufferers we are not alone. There is always someone to call upon for help or advice. We also need to try to look after our own wellbeing too. Staying in contact with family and friends during isolation even with a short phone call will help our mental and emotional health.

“The top tips have been very helpful for me. Being in isolation and not seeing my family and friends is not easy but reading through the tips has made me feel I can cope more easily. It has also reminded me that I can always get help if needed. Looking at ways I can help myself have been reminders really. Take exercise, eat well, don’t over-do things and have some sensible relaxation periods. When this horrible period in our lives is over I shall make sure I continue to follow the top tips for my healthy physical and mental wellbeing.”

The team also includes Laura Campbell, Dr Adrian Chudyk, Keele University Research User Group and Patients and Public group members, Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham and Lorraine Watson.

For more information about the top tips and other current health information, visit Keele's Impact Accelerator Unit webapge and follow @KeeleIAU on Twitter and Facebook.