While symptoms are different for everyone, learning about arthritis, exercise and having a healthy diet can help you find relieve for arthritis pain.
Symptoms are also different for everyone. For some, it can stay the same for years, for others it can progress rapidly, with frequent flares. It can affect different parts of your body, sparing others.
Coping with arthritis is a complicated process, but everyone with arthritis can follow some common rules of thumb.
Learning about the disease and treatment options, getting physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight are essential, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
It’s important to know when to see your doctor about joint pain for an evaluation and diagnosis. The earlier the better. You should make an appointment if joint symptoms last three days or more or you have several episodes of joint symptoms within in month. Self-management of your arthritis becomes important after you are diagnosed.
In general, you should keep track of your symptoms, levels of pain, the medications you take, and potential side effects to find what works best for you.
Don’t let pain and fatigue become too much to bear. You can use both medication and non-medication techniques to manage the disease.
It’s important to learn ways to make your life easier while living with arthritis to prevent or control the underlying fatigue that stress and pain can cause.
Although it seems counterintuitive, exercise is very important because it can help you:
- Strengthen muscles that support your joints
- Maintain range of motion
- Improve sleep
- Boost your sense of well-being
- Lose weight that adds to your joint pain
Conversely, light activity with some rest (but not bedrest, which decreases muscle tone and increases stiffness) is critical if your disease is active and joints are painful.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet that helps you maintain a healthy weight and place a priority on foods with anti-inflammatory properties to help control inflammation.
If you have trouble sleeping, which can come with chronic pain, take some measures to help improve it. Your bedroom should be dark, cool, and quiet. Avoid caffeine or strenuous exercise in the evening. Practice relaxation techniques before bedtime.
June 20, 2023
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA