10 Arthritis Do's and Don'ts

Practical Arthritis Advice to Help You Cope

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When you're diagnosed with arthritis, you have to learn how to live and cope with chronic illness. You need to learn what to do and what not to do. Start with these arthritis do's and don'ts.

The Do's

1 - Pay Attention to Early Symptoms

Early arthritis symptoms can be vague and confusing, but they are important to recognize. You will realize quickly that early symptoms are just the first layer to be uncovered before a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan can be established.

2 - Consult a Doctor if Symptoms Persist

Many patients try to self-treat when symptoms first appear. But, there is a reasonableness that should be applied to self-treatment. When symptoms persist, consult a doctor.

3 - Find a Doctor Whom You Trust Like Family

You should think of your doctor as if he were part of your family - someone you can trust, someone who communicates well. The doctor-patient relationship must be open and honest. Your doctor should encourage questions and a discussion of your concerns. You must have a good rapport and be able to talk.

4 - Learn All About Your Type of Arthritis

Become educated about your specific type of arthritis. While the types of arthritis are similar, there are differences, too. Know what to expect with your type of arthritis, including treatment options and your prognosis.

5 - Fully Understand Your Treatment Plan

Some people take pills without knowing the drug's name, dosage, or why they have been prescribed the medication. It is your responsibility to know about your drugs and know the plan for your treatment.

6 - Respect Your Pain

Pain is a signal which lets you know something isn't quite right. You must respect pain by pacing your activities, resting, taking medications appropriately, and discussing better pain control with your doctor.

7 - Learn What Triggers Pain and a Flare of Symptoms

You must be aware of what is triggering your pain and causing a flare of symptoms. Is it stress? Is it lack of sleep? Have you taken medications on time? Try to control your triggers. For example, counteract stress with meditation.

8 - Consider Lifestyle Changes

Arthritis treatment encompasses more than popping pills. There are reasonable lifestyle changes that may improve your condition. Eating well, quitting smoking, getting regular exercise, losing weight are all essential components to living well with arthritis.

9 - Protect Your Joints

It's important to always be aware of your joint position so that joints are not improperly used, moved, or stressed. Pay attention to body mechanics. Use assistive devices or mobility aids when necessary.

10 - Relax

Do you sometimes feel like your life is all about medical things? It will consume you if you let it. Instead, you can make a conscious effort to relax. Take a break and set aside your worries. You will come back to it refreshed.

The Don'ts

1 - Don't Expect Others to Fully Understand

Family and friends will try to understand what it's like for you to live with chronic pain, but unless they walk a mile in your shoes, keep your expectations realistic.

2 - Don't Stick With a Doctor Who Leaves You Feeling Dissatisfied

There are a lot of doctors to choose from, depending on where you live, of course. But, there is no reason to stay with a doctor who makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason. Your doctor works for YOU!

3 - Don't Give Up; There Will Be a Lifetime of Ups and Downs

People with arthritis want a cure. They want the disease to be gone. But until there is a cure, you must learn to cope with arthritis. It's disease course will be variable and there will be many ups and downs.

4 - Don't Beat Yourself Up Over Feeling Depressed Some Days

Living with arthritis is tough stuff. You would not be human if it didn't get you down every once in a while. Expect to feel depressed on bad days. Don't run from it, nor wallow in it.

5 - Don't Go It Alone; Develop a Support Network

When you are first diagnosed, you feel alone. But, you are not alone. Many people have a rheumatic condition and together you can form bonds of friendship and a support network.

6 - Don't Get Caught Up in the "WHY ME" Mentality

Feeling sorry for yourself is negative energy. Nothing is really gained from it. When you ask yourself "why me", you should ask, why not you. Channel your energy in a more positive direction.

  • Has Arthritis Made You Ask "Why Me?"

7 - Don't Undertreat Pain and Allow It to Get Out of Control

Some people hate the thought of taking pain medication. Many fear unpleasant side effects, including addiction. It's a must to get pain under control, however that can be accomplished. Undertreating will just work against you.

8- Don't Overtreat Without Consulting Your Doctor

One pill helps so two should help even more, right? Not so fast. Taking more medication without doctor's supervision is ill-advised.

9- Don't Overlook Emotional Aspects of Having Arthritis

It's not just about physical limitations -- there is an emotional side to being diagnosed and living with arthritis. Frustration, guilt, anger and more, come into play.

10 - Don't Aggravate Symptoms by Overdoing; Balance Your Life

You would like to be able to do everything you were able to do before being diagnosed with arthritis. So, you actually try to be your former self sometimes. Don't get caught up in what once was. Consider your life as it is now and live a balanced life.

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