Whether you’re sitting on an exam table that’s covered in crinkly paper or getting a call from your doctor’s office, hearing the words “you have arthritis” brings a mix of emotions: worry about the future, relief at having an answer, disbelief that this is actually happening to you. It’s a lot to think about. Here’s what to consider in the early days after your arthritis diagnosis, as you learn more about the disease and how to manage it. By taking positive steps, you both handle your arthritis better and feel more in control, which is way better than feeling scared, stressed or powerless. You can do this, we promise.
1. Learn more about your type of arthritis
There are more than 100 kinds of arthritis
, so it’s important to know what form you have so you can work with your health-care team on a treatment plan that’s just right for you.
2. Find your team
Your family doctor or specialist is an essential resource, but other health-care providers are part of the team too. You may consult a physiotherapist, dietitian, occupational therapist, pharmacist or nurse to learn more about strategies that can work for you. Download our simple checklists to take to your appointments.
3. Support your joints
Paying attention to good posture (mom was right), changing your position often, learning how to properly do tasks that involve bending or heavy loads, and using supportive shoes, splints or braces can all help protect your joints.
4. Reach for good foods
Nourish yourself by eating a wide variety of foods at regular meals that include whole grains, fruits and veggies, protein, and dairy products. Maintaining a healthy weight takes a load off your joints—losing 10 pounds can reduce the stress on your knees by 40 pounds!
5. Keep moving
Swimming, stretching, walking and cycling are all easy on the joints and help you maintain a full range of motion, which in turn keeps your muscles, joints and bones healthy. In other words, regular exercise can reduce arthritis symptoms and result in less pain. Thumbs up to that.
6. Manage your meds
Take the time to learn about the medications your doctor prescribes for pain and other symptoms, how to take them properly and how to deal with any side effects.
7. Pay attention to your energy
Fatigue can be a sneaky part of living with arthritis. Think about how you can break bigger tasks into more doable pieces, plan ahead, prioritize what’s most important and ask for help.