4 Steps to Healthy Living with Osteoarthritis

4 Steps to Healthy Living with Osteoarthritis

By abbeysue Published at March 5 Views 7,483 Likes 14

Osteoarthritis is often called “wear and tear arthritis” because it becomes more common as we age. Symptoms, however, can start to appear as early as age 40 and as the years progress, we develop pain, aches, swelling and stiffness in our joints. All of these things affect our ability to function and move.

The current estimate of persons living with osteoarthritis is 27 million, and as the current Baby Boomer generation ages that number is expected to soar in the next decade. 

Even after receiving a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, you are still able to live a full, productive and active life. In addition to the treatment options presented by your doctor, you can take care of yourself by protecting your joints and making use of assistive devices, seeking advice and assistance from your healthcare team, and by developing your own self-management program. In addition, you should learn as much as you can about osteoarthritis, treatment options and lifestyle modifications.

Three Points to Remember

There are some important things to consider as you start to learn more about your new life with osteoarthritis. First, your doctor can be a great resource for information. Second, you should learn to decipher fact from fiction. While exploring treatment options, you may come across so-called miracle remedies. Some of these may be safe, but others might be harmful so you should learn to decipher facts and risks about these types of options. Last, find support and understanding from others who have osteoarthritis and can offer a wealth of experience on living healthy with the condition. 

Joint Protection

Joint protection involves learning new ways to use your joints and eliminating stress and strain to avoid further damage. You can protect your joints by moving them daily. Identify what your full range of motion is without pain. If you experience pain, you are overexerting joints. A physical therapist can help you learn correct ways to exercise to your full range of motion so that movement is gentle and easy and you do not overdo your movements. Your joint exercise should be done in a gentle and slow manner without jerking. It is also important to recognize when you are in pain and if so, you should rest your joints or avoid movements and activities that cause pain in them.  You should expect your range of motion to change daily or after you have pushed yourself too much. Avoid sitting for long periods and move your joints after being seated for a long period.

Your Health Care Team

Your osteoarthritis healthcare team can include a variety of specialties, including family physicians, internists, rheumatologists, physical and occupational therapists, psychiatrists, orthopedic doctors, dietitians and social workers. All of these people can work together to help you find ways to better manage your osteoarthritis and help with solutions towards healthy living.  

A family doctor, an internist and a rheumatologist can help you deal with the medical aspects of your conditions while all the other healthcare professionals listed are available to help you with your complete arthritis management plan. Physical therapists can help you to find solutions to problems you have performing daily activities. Occupational therapists can help you assess your home and recommend changes for you to continue to be safe and comfortable in your home. Dietitians can help you learn healthy eating habits to keep weight and inflammation down. Psychiatrists and social workers can help you cope with stress and emotional adjustments.

It’s All Up to You

Self-management of arthritis is the most critical factor in successfully managing osteoarthritis. This is where you take control and become responsible for making a choice to pursue a healthy lifestyle. In doing so, you must anticipate any problems you will face and the lifestyle changes that you will need to make in order to continue to be self-sufficient. 

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