May is National Arthritis Month. The goal is to increase awareness of arthritis. Better understanding can benefit both patients with arthritis and people who are not afflicted with the disease.
Arthritis is often misunderstood, largely due to misconceptions, misinformation, and old wives tales which persist. Unless the difficulties and limitations imposed by arthritis affect you or a family member directly, your exposure to the disease may be minimal.
Arthritis is a complicated disease because there are many different types of arthritis, various symptom patterns, and numerous treatment options. Severe forms of arthritis can be disabling and can affect many aspects of daily living.
Living With Arthritis
Newly diagnosed patients have much to learn about the psychological, emotional, and physical impact of living with arthritis. Chronic arthritis patients who have had the disease a long time must continue to adapt and adjust as the disease progresses. Along with pain and physical limitations, arthritis patients must also deal with other challenges including:
Arthritis is life-altering. Since there is no cure for arthritis, managing the disease is vital. There are many positive approaches to the management of arthritis. Use the month of May to make choices and take action so you can better live and cope with arthritis. Start with the 8 Best Things to Do for Arthritis:
- Educate yourself and become knowledgeable about your condition. Learn what helps and what hurts.
- Motivate yourself to remain active by focusing on what you can do as opposed to what you cannot do.
- Participate in life and fight off depression and isolation.
- Medicate and follow a treatment plan that will relieve symptoms and allow the highest quality of life.
- Communicate your need for patience, understanding, and support from those around you.
- Meditate to give the body and mind needed relief from the stress of arthritis.
- Eliminate stress whenever possible so it does not further compound the stress of the disease.
- Concentrate on setting realistic goals, positive thinking, remaining active, and actions which make living with arthritis more bearable.
Staying Active With Arthritis
- Try to move your joints gently through their full range of motion every day.
- Gradually build up endurance exercises to 20 to 30 minutes per day, at least three times a week.
- After exercising, cool down for 5-10 minutes to let your heart slow down and allow your muscles to relax.
If you are having a flare up of symptoms, do not skip exercises completely. Inactivity leads to stiff and weak muscles. A balance between rest and activity is best, even during a flare.
- Exercise: Essential Treatment for Arthritis
- Over One-Third of People With Arthritis Get No Exercise
- How Do Arthritis Patients Perceive Exercise?
American College of Rheumatology