People with bone, joint and muscle pain saw their symptoms worsen during lockdown, according to new research.
The UK-wide study, conducted by the University of East Anglia on 678 people with musculoskeletal pain, shows that more than half (53%) reported increased symptoms five weeks after the start of lockdown.
The online survey was conducted to find out how the government restrictions impacted the health and wellbeing of those with bone, joint and muscle pain, as well as their ability to access healthcare.
It found that third of patients reported needing to access either their GP or hospital rheumatology department.
It also discovered that those who reported greater social isolation and loneliness were less likely to access healthcare.
Meanwhile, most respondents, just over 88%, reported little difficulty accessing medication, but 44% needed the assistance of others to do this.
Prof Alex MacGregor, who co-led the study with Dr Toby Smith, said: “This survey, conducted in the early stages of the UK lockdown, suggests that there have been immediate negative consequences for people with musculoskeletal disease.
“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.”
He added: “Healthcare providers should reach out to individual patients who do not come forward for advice, and who might be silently struggling with their disease.”