New Norwich-based study looks at lockdown impact of bone, joint and muscle pain symptoms

PUBLISHED: 07:15 24 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:33 24 September 2020

The University of East Anglia has released a report on the impact of lockdown for patients with muscle, joint pain. Picture Getty Images

The University of East Anglia has released a report on the impact of lockdown for patients with muscle, joint pain. Picture Getty Images


Patients living with bone, joint and muscle pain, saw their symptoms worsen during lockdown, according to new research by the University of East Anglia.

Dr Toby Smith, from UEA’s School of Health Sciences, and Professor Alex MacGregor, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, carried out the study looking at the impact of lockdown on patients with a range of musculoskeletal diseases.

From the findings, healthcare providers were urged to reach out to patients who may be “silently struggling”.

There were 678 responses to the survey launched in late April, which assessed the impact of restrictions on wellbeing and ability to access healthcare on patients with a range of bone, joint and muscle pains.

Of those that took part, 53pc said symptoms had worsened since the start of lockdown.

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Dr Toby Smith said: “Bone, joint and muscle diseases are frequently managed with a combination of physical activity and medications.

“Our results show that the coronavirus pandemic is a major challenge to people’s health and wellbeing, both to young and older people.

“When lockdown happened, we were worried that this may become a much greater problem – particularly for those with bone, joint and muscle pain.”

The study also found those who reported greater social isolation and loneliness were less likely to access healthcare. Just over 88pc reported little difficulty accessing medication, but 44 per cent of needed assistance.

Prof MacGregor, who also works at the rheumatology department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “Despite the swift transformations in the configuration of healthcare that have taken place, patients have in the main been able to access primary care and hospital rheumatology departments. However, those with higher levels of social isolation access healthcare the least.

“Should further isolation measures need to be enforced as we have seen in some part of the UK as the pandemic continues, particular efforts should be made to protect and support the socially isolated as a vulnerable group.

“Healthcare providers should reach out to individual patients who do not come forward for advice, and who might be silently struggling with their disease.”

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