The Possible Links Between Covid and Rheumatoid Arthritis

1) Rheumatoid arthritis is different from ordinary arthritis, isn’t it?
Yes, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease – it’s as if your body is attacking its own cells and this causes swollen painful joints when you have the disease. You experience morning stiffness that lasts for more than an hour and you can also get nodules on particularly small joints in your hands and feet. Also, It can cause fatigue and sometimes a mild fever.

Osteoarthritis tends to appear in your hips, knees neck, back and big toes. It can often happen sometime after an injury.

2) How is arthritis diagnosed?
In rheumatoid arthritis, there are various blood tests that are performed. The ESR test looks at red blood cells checking for inflammation or the CRP test -where the C Reactive protein increases when there is an inflammatory response in the body.

Patients with either type may be sent for X-rays, ultrasounds or MRI scans.

3) So what is the current treatment?
For rheumatoid arthritis it tends to be DMARDS -these are disease-modifying drugs such as azathioprine or sulfasalazine. Your surgery will ask you to come for blood tests, sometimes monthly because these medicines can affect your blood cells and your surgery will want to monitor your kidney and liver. Anyone taking these types of medicine who develops a sore throat must seek medical attention.

You may also be given non-steroidal antiinflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen. It’s very important to take these medicines after food because of the irritation in the stomach.

Your doctor may also prescribe a PPI-omeprazole or lansoprazole at the same time to protect your stomach.

For osteoarthritis, it can be helpful to take paracetamol on a regular basis.

4) Can people buy arthritis medicine over the counter say from their pharmacy?

Yes, and this is where it’s important to get to know your pharmacist. He or she will be able to keep you right in terms of what medicine you can take particularly if you are on other medicines. Carers particularly – please don’t pick something up at the supermarket without checking with the pharmacist if it’s safe for the person to take.

For additional help on self-management, go to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society. Their phone number is 0800 298 7650 and they are open MONDAY to Friday.