A new study has suggested that people with conditions such as arthritis could benefit from exercise and talking therapy to help combat fatigue.

People with inflammatory rheumatic diseases – which include conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and axial spondylitis – could benefit from the treatments and they should be used as part of routine care, experts said.

Some 800,000 people suffer from these conditions across the UK and four in five of these (80%) live with fatigue every day, affecting their ability to concentrate, go to work, and live independently.

The new study, published in Lancet Rheumatology, examined how to improve fatigue among these patients.

Researchers from the universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow and funded by the charity Versus Arthritis, compared three different types of care, as provided to 368 people with various inflammatory rheumatic diseases.

Andover Advertiser: Exercise therapy and talking therapy helped combat fatigue symptoms (PA)Exercise therapy and talking therapy helped combat fatigue symptoms (PA)

Participants were either given telephone-delivered physical activity programmes, cognitive behavioural therapy or they received usual care.

Those in the exercise group had five one-to-one 45-minute sessions over 30 weeks while those who had talking therapy received an average of eight sessions over the same period and the usual care group were given an education booklet on fatigue.

Through this researchers found that those who had talking therapies or exercise therapy reduced their fatigue levels significantly compared to those receiving usual care.

The benefits continued for six months following completion of the courses of treatment.

And people who were offered these interventions also reported improved sleep, mental health and quality of life, compared to those who received usual care.

Lead investigator, Professor Neil Basu who carried out the majority of the research at the University of Aberdeen, but now of the University of Glasgow, said: “Our study provides new evidence that some non-pharmacological interventions can be successfully and effectively delivered by non-specialist members of the clinical service.

“It has been encouraging to see that the interventions have led to improvements for participants even six months after the end of the treatment.

“It’s also great to see that these steps were impactful even when delivered via telephone.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, health care services are being re-imagined to incorporate greater remote care, however the evidence base to support this shift has generally been limited.”