Adjusting to Life With Arthritis

By the time you’re diagnosed with arthritis, you’ve already noticed the changes in your daily life. You may have limited or even stopped doing the activities you enjoy.

Maybe you’ve noticed the drain on your energy, or frequent pain has become a roadblock to enjoying life. Once you know that arthritis is the culprit, you may wonder what it means down the road and how quickly your disease will progress.

Each person follows a different disease path, and no one can predict how rapidly your arthritis will advance, but there’s one thing we do know: You can improve your daily life and stay healthy by following a few lifestyle tips.

Andrew B. Richardson, MD, specializes in arthritis management, a comprehensive type of treatment that includes pain management, exercise and dietary therapies, medical care, and support for the challenges you may face. Call when you need help with arthritis. In the meantime, here are four tips for adjusting to life with arthritis.

Keep moving

There’s no doubt that getting exercise is one of the best things you can do for arthritic joints. Exercise boosts circulation, reduces inflammation, maintains mobility, and strengthens muscles. One way to protect your joints is by keeping their supporting muscles strong and flexible.

It’s important to choose activities that don’t put too much stress on your joints, however. The type of activity that’s safe and tolerable varies for each person, depending on the extent and type of their arthritis and their general health.

We can help you develop a safe exercise plan that you’ll enjoy enough to stick with. You may also benefit from physical therapy that’s targeted for your unique joint needs. 

Balance rest with activity

Balancing rest with activity applies to your exercise routine and your regular daily activities. Taking a break and balancing heavy and light activities throughout the day protects your joints by avoiding too much stress.

Sometimes you only need to listen to your body. Then there are times when your ongoing arthritis pain makes it hard to identify when pain is warning you to stop. We’re available to answer your questions and help you learn when you can keep going or you need to rest.

Watch your weight

You already know that carrying too much weight is bad for your joints. But did you know that every pound of excess body weight adds about four pounds of pressure to your knees? Staying at your healthy weight reduces the pain and slows down joint damage.

Though you can try any type of weight-loss diet, you won’t keep the weight off for the long term unless you get into the daily habit of eating fewer calories than you burn. It comes down to the same advice you’ve probably heard before: You need to limit your calorie intake, eat healthy foods, and get regular exercise. 

Following a diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, and low-fat meat also reduces inflammation and goes a long way toward keeping your joints healthy.

Talk about your pain

Many people figure that pain is part of having arthritis and that they must bear it and keep pushing forward. But pain management is an important part of adjusting to life with arthritis.

Yes, arthritis causes pain, but living with chronic pain adds to your stress, interferes with your sleep, and stops you from exercising. All of these things are guaranteed to make your arthritis worse.  

Effective pain management is at the top of the list when it comes to adjusting to life with arthritis, so we work closely with you to create a safe plan for easing the pain. While we may prescribe medications, they’re not the only or even the best option. We also recommend other treatments, such as physical therapy and rehabilitation, joint injections, and therapies to calm overactive nerves.

If your arthritis has already reached an advanced stage and you have significant joint damage, it may be time to consider a joint replacement to relieve pain and restore normal movement.

To learn more about how to protect your joints and adjust to life with arthritis, call Andrew B. Richardson, MD, at the location that’s convenient for you, or request an appointment online today.

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