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Urgent warning as thousands of Brits at risk of chronic illness due to Covid delays

THOUSANDS of Brits are likely to be living with an undiagnosed  chronic illness that was missed during the pandemic, experts have said.

New research shows cases of arthritis, which dropped by almost a quarter during the first UK lockdown, have not jumped back to pre-pandemic levels.

Arthritis causes constant and often disabling joint pain, usually in the hips, knees, wrists or fingers
Early diagnosis and treatment of arthritis is vital to prevent long-term damage to the joints

This suggests as many as one in five Brits with arthritis have the disease unknowingly and have not be seen by their GP or hospital specialist, UK researchers have said.

Lead author Dr Mark Russell, from King’s College London, said: “This study highlights that there are likely to be people with joint pain and swelling who remain undiagnosed as a consequence of the pandemic.”

More than 400,000 adults in the UK have rheumatoid arthritis, according to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society.

It’s a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, for which there is currently no cure.

However, early diagnosis and treatment – from exercise to medication and surgery – is vital to prevent long-term damage to the joints.

The study evaluated care for 31,000 people with new diagnoses of arthritis between April 2019 and March 2022, from a study population of over 17million people in England.

It found that the number of newly recorded arthritis diagnoses fell by 20 per cent in the year after the first Covid lockdown compared to the year before the pandemic.

This comes as millions of Brits could also be at risk of a silent killer due to Covid delays.

Medics say many are unaware they have potentially deadly conditions such as high blood pressure, that up your risk of having a stroke.

Previously, experts warned people with a common form of arthritis known as gout had an increased risk of a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke.

What are the signs of arthritis?

Symptoms of arthritis can vary depending on the type you have, and can affect anyone of any age.

It is important to see your doctor and get an accurate diagnosis if you have:

  • Joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
  • Inflammation in and around the joints
  • Restricted movement of the joints
  • Warm, red skin over the affected joint
  • Weakness and muscle wasting

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