TUESDAY, Sept. 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Early stages of the U.K. COVID-19 lockdown had negative consequences for people with musculoskeletal conditions, according to a letter to the editor published online Sept. 22 in Rheumatology: Advances in Practice.

Toby O. Smith, Ph.D., from the School of Health Sciences at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and colleagues conducted an online survey (April 28 to May 27, 2020) of 678 patients with musculoskeletal diseases to assess the impact COVID-19 lockdown measures had on their well-being and ability to access health care.

The authors found that rheumatoid arthritis (43.5 percent) and osteoarthritis (21.7 percent) were the most commonly reported conditions. Just over half of respondents (52.1 percent) reported that their musculoskeletal symptoms had increased since the start of lockdown. The majority of respondents (88.2 percent) reported little difficulty accessing medication, although 44 percent of respondents needed the assistance of others to obtain them. One-third of patients needed to access a physician or hospital for rheumatology care during the study period. Patients who accessed health care reported significantly greater pain and stiffness and poorer general health, while those who reported greater social isolation and greater loneliness were less likely to access health care.

“Should further isolation measures need to be enforced as we have seen in some part of the United Kingdom as the pandemic continues, particular efforts should be made to protect and support the socially isolated as a vulnerable group,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Health care 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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