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What do I need to know about managing arthritis?

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Nearly 20 million people in the UK have a Nearly 20 million people in the UK have a musculoskeletal condition such as arthriti

Musculoskeletal conditions, including low back pain and arthritis are increasingly common conditions worldwide, meaning that they will regularly present in general practice.1 According to Versus Arthritis, in 2017 18.8 million people in the United Kingdom, or around three people in ten, had a musculoskeletal condition, with women, older people, and those living in deprived areas of deprivation being disproportionately affected.2

Arthritis, which refers to inflammation in the joints, causes pain and disability and impacts on quality of life. It can also exacerbate other long-term conditions. People who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease or diabetes will often benefit from physical activity, but joint pain can impact on their ability to remain physically active and can cause a downward spiral of physical and psychological deconditioning.3 The phenomenon of nocebo hyperalgesia, where increased pain sensitivity results from negative outcome expectations in conditions such as arthritis, may also have deleterious effects on people with this condition.4

In this article, we consider the role of general practice and community nurses in recognising, diagnosing and managing arthritis.

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