More than 50 million adults have some form of arthritis, according to the National Center for Health Statistics1. Arthritis can be a difficult and debilitating condition, but this does not mean it is unmanageable or impossible to handle. From self-management and self-care, to exercise and diet changes, there are various ways to manage and mitigate your arthritis diagnosis and the symptoms that come with it. Here are various general tips for managing arthritis.
Self-management is an important aspect when dealing with any kind of illness and chronic pain, and this is no different when dealing with arthritis. The term “self-management” includes the day-to-day activities you can do to manage your condition. The CDC’s arthritis program recommends 5 self-management strategies to help regulate arthritis and subsequent symptoms. these 5 strategies include the following; learning new self-management skills or enrolling in self-management classes, being active, talking to your Doctor, managing your weight, and protecting your joints. Practicing one or a combination of these self-management strategies can start making a positive difference in helping to reduce your systems and offer relief2.
Arthritis and the subsequent pain can often be debilitating, but this doesn’t mean there are no avenues for managing these symptoms. An oft-overlooked treatment is a tailored exercise regime and physical therapy regimen; there can be a variety of exercise and therapy strategies that can be utilized, most effectively by talking with your primary care physician and creating a system tailor-made for your lifestyle and conditions. Doctors have identified a handful of primary reasons to introduce exercise into your plans for combating arthritis symptoms including, but not limited to, keeping your joints from becoming too stiff, keeping muscles around your joints strong, and to keep bone and cartilage tissue strong and healthy. There are three main types of exercises that can be focused on; range-of-motion/flexibility, strengthening, and fitness. Physical and Occupational therapists, along with your doctor, will know what types of exercise and regimen will work best for you3.
Diet can be an important aspect when managing Arthritis. Though there is no specific diet that treats arthritis, foods found in the Mediterranean diet can be good for joint health and help reduce inflammation. Foods included within this group are Fish, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, beans, olive oil, and whole grains. As for foods to avoid, there have been a handful of studies linking SOlanine, a chemical component in nightshade vegetables, to possibly be linked to arthritis pain. While study results have been mixed, there have been patients who report a reduction in symptoms when avoiding these vegetables. For your best, contact your primary physician and talk about what dietary options, if any, could work best for you and your situation4.
Fatigue is a common and persistent foe and an expected symptom when dealing with Arthritis. An important part of managing this aspect of your diagnosis is opening a clear and communicative dialogue with your doctor. Fatigue can be caused by many different factors and therefore can require a plethora of different remedies, which is why an open dialogue with your doctor will be so important; they will help tailor a plan that best fits your needs and lifestyle, whether that focus on medication lifestyle changes or a combination of both. Though a 2017 study published in “Current Rheumatology Reports” cites that many arthritis medications don’t target fatigue specifically, unchecked inflammation caused by arthritis can be a leading cause in patients fatigue and talking with your doctor about the best medication to treat these symptoms can go a long way with managing your fatigue symptoms. Various Lifestyle changes can be a big help in managing arthritis fatigue as well; studies conducted by Patti Katz, PhD, of the University of California San Francisco, identifies proper hydration, an exercise regime, and maintaining good sleep habits as important steps to maintaining fatigue5.
Finding Your Support Network
Managing Arthritis and its subsequent wear and tear on your body can be a daunting task, not only physically but emotionally as well; This is why establishing a support network is so important, especially for patients’ mental health through this time. An Arthritis diagnosis can come with an overwhelming influx of emotions along with pain, and it is no less important to treat these emotional aspects than the physical ones. Confusion, Frustration, Depression, and sadness are just a few emotional symptoms one can experience, but these obstacles aren’t insurmountable and there are steps you can take to mitigate the. Talking with your doctor, practicing self-care, getting involved with social activities and your community, or seeking professional counseling can all be helpful options6.
In conclusion, there are various ways to help handle and manage an arthritis diagnosis. Fundamentally, open and honest dialogue with your primary care physician is paramount to most effectively put together a plan that works best for your lifestyle and diagnosis. This can be a stressful time in a person’s life, and we hope these tips for managing this diagnosis can help in even a small way.
 OrthoInfo. “Managing Arthritis Pain With Exercise – OrthoInfo – AAOS.” OrthoInfo. Accessed April 20, 2020.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “5 Proven Ways to Manage Arthritis.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 5, 2019.
 U.W. Medicine.“Exercise and Arthritis.” Patient Resources. Accessed April 20, 2020.
 Nichols, Hannah. “Arthritis: Causes, Types, and Treatments.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, November 14, 2017.
 Arthritis Foundation. “How to Beat Arthritis Fatigue: Arthritis Foundation.” How to Beat Arthritis Fatigue | Arthritis Foundation. Accessed April 20, 2020.
 “Managing Emotions and Arthritis: Arthritis Foundation.” Managing Emotions and Arthritis | Arthritis Foundation. Accessed April 20, 2020.