Dr. Arthritis Shares: 10 Things We Wish We Knew Sooner About Managing Arthritis
Some of us have been living with and managing our arthritis for years. We pretty much know what triggers a flare, and we know what to do and how to get around the worst of our symptoms.
So for those who have just been recently diagnosed, we know arthritis and all its implications on your health and way of life is still new, overwhelming, and scary. To that end, we’re rounded up some of the best advice that we’ve come across that have proven to be very useful; it has gotten us through most of our darkest times and toughest flare ups and, quite frankly, wish we had known it all sooner. Check it out below—
1. Take it easy on yourself
Rest when you have to. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s simply your body telling you that you need to recover and recuperate.
2. Find an arthritis support group
Family and friends who understand and support you are important. But sometimes, they simply don’t get it. It’s not a bad thing, just a fact.
Find an arthritis support group in your local community or go online and join one. You’d be surprised at how simply learning about how others are handling their diagnosis can make you feel less isolated. It can do wonders for your outlook and morale.
3. Never be embarrassed to ask for help
Long-time arthritis sufferers are advocates of getting arthritis recognized as a legitimate disability. Why? Because on its worst days, it can be a debilitating condition that affects work, school, your daily routine.
Most people are more than willing to give you the support you need—all you have to do is ask for it.
5. Arthritis can be expensive—so be prepared
Getting an arthritis diagnosis, as most of us has already experienced, isn’t as straightforward as it seems. But even the day to day expenses associated with managing your diagnosis can take its toll on your budget. Be prepared and ask your insurance provider what they can cover to help manage the cost.
5. Medication that works today may not always work forever—talk to your doctors
There’s a reason why a lot of arthritis sufferers get so frustrated about their treatment plans. It’s not uncommon for arthritis sufferers to find medication that actually works, only to have it suddenly become ineffective. Unfortunately, finding the right meds isn’t as easy as you think so you have to stay in constant communication with your health team.
6. Stay active whenever you can
Arthritis is a progressive condition, meaning it gets worse over time. But exercise really helps. Exercise may seem counterintuitive given that you’re trying to ease the pressure and load on your joints, but no one is saying that staying active means you have to finish a marathon or join a cross fit group. Exercise when you can, while you still can. Choose something that’s easy on your joints like swimming, walking or yoga.
7. Diet can help manage your symptoms
What you eat and don’t eat can go a long way in terms of managing your symptoms. There are foods that serve only to make your inflammation worse—learn them and stay away from them. On the flipside, there are options that can help minimize inflammation as well.
8. Watch out for depression
Arthritis sufferers are prone to depression. The diagnosis alone can be devastating; and going through all the symptoms can feel isolating and overwhelming because you feel like you have no one to talk to. These compounded emotions plus the pain often lead to depression. Most sufferers focus so much on treating the physical symptoms that they overlook how it’s affecting their emotional and mental well-being.
9. Arthritis doesn’t just manifest as joint pain
Joint pain is the most common symptom, but arthritis could also affect your eye sight or your skin. You could break out in rashes, develop lesions, experience fever and fatigue. It may seem unrelated, but they’re actually more uncommon symptoms of arthritis.
10. Don’t ignore over-the-counter solutions
Arthritis requires extensive and thorough check ups with your physician that most assume it requires hardcore medication to treat as well. But in fact, over-the-counter medication such as NSAIDS or topical options are just as effective. Tools and aids such as compression garments—all available in your local pharmacy—are also very helpful. But be sure to discuss all your options before you start with it.
As always, if you have more to add, feel free to tell us all about it and leave a comment below.