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Arthritis, self-isolation and living healthy during the coronavirus outbreak


The coronavirus pandemic is causing increased stress and anxiety, particularly for people with physical and mental health problems.

With the government urging all of us to minimise social contact and for vulnerable people to self-isolate, we reiterate our message to all those living with arthritis: you are not alone.

Yes, in the short-term we may have to sacrifice doing the things we enjoy and may have fewer opportunities to spend time with our friends and family, but there are plenty of ways to keep your mind and body active, even when you're at home.

On this page, you'll find handy advice for staying connected with loved ones as well as tips for living a healthy life within closed quarters and guidance on how to manage your arthritis.


Protecting against COVID-19

The World Health Organization advises a few basic measures for protecting against COVID-19.

These include:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren't clean.

Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • fever/high temperature
  • cough, which may cause shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Most cases of coronavirus in the UK have been mild, meaning the symptoms were similar to that of the common cold.  

In severe cases, it may cause pneumonia and kidney failure.

These symptoms are also common in many viral conditions, including the common cold and flu. Having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have coronavirus.


A message from our ambassador Len Goodman


Staying active at home

It is important to try and exercise whenever possible whether you are minimising social contact or in self-isolation.

As you're well aware, staying active is vital when you're trying to manage the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis.

Over the last few years we’ve published lots of fitness tips for those living with arthritis and also shared easy-to-do exercises that can be done indoors.

Now's the perfect time to renew your acquaintance with them.

  • Easy to do at home knee exercises (LINK)
  • Easy to do at home hip exercises (LINK)
  • Easy to do at home hand exercises (LINK)
  • Easy to do at home shoulder exercises (LINK)
  • Easy to do at home foot and ankle exercises (LINK)

If you're lucky enough to have a garden, now is the perfect time to slip the gloves on those green fingers.

  • Tips for gardening when you have arthritis (LINK)

Eating healthy

While you can't “boost” your immune system through diet, and no specific food or supplement will prevent you catching COVID-19 you should still look to eat heathily.

It's all the more important if you're getting less exercise than usual because you're confined to your home.

If you're looking for inspiration, take a look at the anti-inflammatory recipes from our archive.

Carrot, ginger and turmeric soup

Paprika chicken, red lentils & cherry tomatoes

Baked trout, red peppers, potatoes & almonds

Roast salmon with sweet potatoes

Tomato & Coconut Cassoulet

Satay sweet potato curry

Moroccan chickpea soup

Prawn, pepper & coconut curry


Managing pain

There has been some confusion as to whether or not it is safe to take ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatorys (NSAIDs).

Versus Arthritis relay the following advice from the NHS:

“There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse. But until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you. If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first."


If you’re feeling anxious or worried

It's perfectly natural to feel cut off when you're confined to your own home. But remember, we live in a world that is more connected than ever.

From Whatsapp and Skype to text messages and regular phone calls, there are lots of ways to stay in touch with people; whether you're checking if they are okay or if you yourself need to talk.

As patient activist Simon Stones said in a recent interview: “Don’t feel that you have to put on a ‘brave face’. We’ve all done it, but there’s no need to do so anymore.”

If you need to talk to someone about your concerns there are a number of charities you can call.

Versus Arthritis
Call free: 0800 5200 520
Open 9am–8pm, Monday–Friday

Mind
Call free: 0300 123 3393
Open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays).

Samaritans
Call free: 116 123
Open 24/7

The Mix (for people under 25)
Call free: 0808 808 4994
Open 24/7

Join us on social media

If you want to talk to us, get in touch via Facebook and Twitter. We're very proud of the community we've built on Facebook, where our friends are always keen to share their own advice.


Useful links

Public Health England

  • Find guidance about coronavirus for health professionals and other organisations, including employees, employers, businesses, those working in educational settings and more. (LINK)
  • Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults (LINK)

NHS coronavirus overview

  • For an overview of the illness, the latest advice on what to do if you are showing the symptoms and tips on social distancing. (LINK)

GOV.UK action plan

  • What the health and social care system across the UK has done to tackle the coronavirus outbreak and what it plans to do next. (LINK)