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Dealing with arthritic pain while waiting for surgery

It’s estimated that there are around 100,000 arthritis patients across the UK who are overdue for joint replacement or resurfacing surgery. Waiting times vary geographically, but anyone suffering from the chronic pain that has put them on the waiting list will be struggling with their day-to-day lives.

It’s going to take some time for the NHS to catch up, even as Covid now seems to be receding.

So is there anything that people can do to help themselves in the meantime?

Be active

One GP with a special interest in rheumatology, Dr Alastair Dickson, has provided some suggestions for lifestyle changes and self-management that could help to relieve pain and improve mobility during the long wait between referral and treatment.

Dr Dickson recommends keeping active as much as possible. Exercise strengthens the muscles surrounding the joints, and NICE guidelines support the view that exercise supports arthritic joints. Exercise can also help to reduce weight, which works to reduce the pressure on load-bearing joints. Additionally, fitness and a healthy weight are considered important for effective recovery after surgery.

Consider supplements

Some patients may find that supplements can help to relieve pain, which could then support more exercise and increased mobility.

One supplement highlighted by Dr Dickson is rosehip. Medications containing rosehip extracts that are prepared to retain a high level of a compound called GOPO have been found in clinical trials to be helpful in reducing pain. Some patients have also reported finding supplements a helpful alternative to paracetamol. Studies suggest that these rosehip compounds may have anti-inflammatory properties and offer potential benefits to cartilage

Dr Dickson adds for clarity: ‘I advise a company who supports GOPO Joint Health, a rosehip-containing supplement. I always advise my patients of this to avoid any conflicts of interest when we discuss rose-hip compounds.’

Other supplements that come up in conversations are glucosamine sulphate and chrondroitin, although results of studies are inconclusive.

Look at supports

There are products on the market which can provide extra support for joints. The Action Reliever from Thuasne aimed at those with osteoarthritis is one example that is receiving positive reviews, and may be available on prescription as well as through direct payment.

Further reading

Important

As with all medical discussions, we are not qualified to give advice here. Please talk to your own GP or consultant, especially if you are thinking of taking supplements and already take medication.

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