Versus Arthritis offers advice on managing pain while waiting for surgery

One of the various consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an increase in waiting times for routine surgeries and hospital treatments, as NHS resources have been dedicated to fighting the virus.

This has left many people facing longer waits for procedures that could help them to manage debilitating or painful health conditions, such as joint replacements for those with arthritis.

In response to this situation, Versus Arthritis - the UK's largest charity dedicated to supporting people living with the condition - has offered some advice on managing pain while waiting for surgery.

How arthritis affects the elderly

Arthritis affects people of all ages, but is more common in the elderly. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, X-ray studies have shown that at least 50 per cent of people over the age of 65 show evidence of osteoarthritis, the most common form of the condition.

Pain, stiffness and restricted movement in the joints are among the main symptoms of arthritis, meaning it can have a particularly significant impact on older people, sometimes leading to a requirement for full-time care.

Family members whose loved ones are struggling to live with arthritis while waiting for surgery could be wondering what they might be able to do to help.

Managing pain

Versus Arthritis offered a number of tips that people can pass on to elderly relatives to help them alleviate or cope with pain in their joints.

As well as painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, there are options such as using a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine - a small, battery-operated device that relieves pain by administering mild electrical currents to the skin.

Heat pads, hot water bottles, ice pads or cold compresses can also help, as can self-massage to stretch tight muscles. Some people find foam rollers useful to relieve stiffness and tension.

The charity also highlighted the importance of trying to stay in generally good health. Exercising regularly, even if it's only for a short time, can improve mobility, strengthen muscles and ease pain, as well as preparing the body to recover after surgery. If walking is too painful, other activities like swimming or chair yoga can be beneficial.

Maintaining a good diet is also one of the best ways for people to boost their general wellbeing, reduce the strain on their joints and prepare for surgery.