Arthritis sufferers urged to lose weight and exercise in new NHS plan

A new NHS plan urges arthritis sufferers to lose weight and exercise as primary therapies for their condition.

New NHS guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) say overweight people should be told that their pain can be reduced if they lose weight.

Meanwhile, aerobic exercise like walking, along with strength training, can relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

Starting exercise programs may initially make the pain worse, but it should subside, according to the advice.

It also gives recommendations on medication use, such as offering nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) but not offering paracetamol, glucosamine, or strong opioids.

Joint pain may be worse at the start of exercise, but will improve over time (AP)

Nice said there was a risk of addiction to strong opioids, while new evidence suggests little to no benefit for some drugs when it comes to quality of life and pain levels.

In the guide, doctors are urged to self-diagnose osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis – without further investigation in people aged 45 or older who suffer from activity-related joint pain.

Patients also must not have morning joint stiffness or morning stiffness that lasts no more than 30 minutes to be diagnosed this way.

The draft guideline says people can be offered tailored exercise programs, with an explanation that “exercising regularly and regularly, even if it may initially cause discomfort, will benefit their joints”.

Long-term exercise also increases its benefits, the guideline adds.

When it comes to weight loss, people will be told that “any amount of weight loss is likely to be beneficial, but losing 10% of your body weight is likely to be better than 5%”.

Dr Paul Chrisp, director of the recommendation center in Nice, said: “Osteoarthritis can cause people discomfort and prevent them from undertaking some of their normal daily activities.

“However, there is evidence that shows that muscle strengthening and aerobic exercise can have an impact not only on disease management, but also on improving people’s quality of life.

“Beginning this journey can be uncomfortable for some people at first, and they need to be supported and given enough information to help them manage their condition over a long period of time.

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