Improving Quality of Life When Living with Arthritis

2014-03-23 | |
Last updated: 2019-10-21

Many privileges come with age, including being able to drive, to vote, to legally consume alcohol, and to become eligible for senior discounts on groceries, hotel rooms, and dinner at favorite restaurants. With age also comes responsibility, and for some people, aging also means an increased chance of developing some form of arthritis. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently estimates that 50 million Americans are suffering1 from the painful symptoms of arthritis. As life expectancy continues to increase and people live longer, fuller lives, the prevalence of arthritis is also expected to increase. What can a person do to manage the pain and continue to improve their quality of life?

Managing the Most Common Types of Arthritis

In the United States, the most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis. Depending on the type of arthritis that a person suffers from, they may feel pain and stiffness around one or several of their joints. Many people develop arthritis in their hands, knees, and feet as they age, and symptoms can come on suddenly or gradually and persist over time. Living with chronic pain that a person has never had before may cause feelings of depression if they are not able to maintain the active lifestyle they once enjoyed.

Because arthritis is a chronic condition, one of the best things that a person can do for themself is to control the pain. Treatments often focus on minimizing damage to the joints as well so someone can improve or maintain their quality of life.

Using Traditional and Alternative Medications To Manage The Disease

Over the counter or prescription pain medications can make living with arthritis more tolerable. Doing personal research can help ensure that nothing in our diet will interact negatively with the pills we are taking. For example, with some Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, eating grapefruit can affect the way the body absorbs medications. And increasingly, arthritis patients are exploring alternative medications and treatments, like cinnamon and even magnetic cushions. Before opening both our minds and our purses to these non-traditional options, it is important to study each one and consult a doctor.

Physical Therapy Can Aid With Arthritis Symptoms

For many arthritis suffers, at the onset of the disease, the first thing they do is to stop doing anything at all. It hurts to move, so they stop moving, exercising, even doing basic housework. Inactivity is as detrimental as overexertion when for a person who has arthritis. Movement keeps the joints flexible. Physical therapy or occupational therapy can help work the joints that are affected by arthritis and therefore minimize the damage that is done to the joints in the long term and while also improving the range of joint motion.

Using Braces Or Splints To Support Painful Joints

For a person suffering from arthritis of the wrist, for example, wearing a supportive brace that can be taken on and off as needed, can help keep the joints stable to experience less pain from movement. Or, for someone who has arthritis in the knees, a knee brace might help to provide the additional support needed. Braces and splints can be custom fitted or purchased over the counter. Here, checking with a person’s insurance provider can allow them to determine what, if any, coverage they have to buy the best support apparatus for their needs.

Losing Weight Can Reduce Joint Stress

Many arthritis suffers find that shedding excess pounds takes the pressure off of their aching knees, hips, and feet, thus giving them some natural relief from their pain. For those of us having arthritis that is potentially weakening our joints, it stands to reason that lightening the load we have to support could certainly help our cause. In fact, it is estimated that for every pound or half kilogram a person loses, they decrease the stress on their knees by a five pounds or about 2 kilograms That is a real incentive to get that weight off.

Emotional Support Is Important To Arthritis Sufferers

Arthritis can be as mentally crippling as it physically debilitating. It hurts our joints, our self-esteem, our relationships, and every aspect of our lives. One of the best things that a person can do to help manage the feelings of frustration, sadness, and even depression as a result of living with arthritis is to get emotional support. It is important to seek out friends and family members who are compassionate and patient and are willing to listen when we need to talk, or lend a hand when we need one.

For those of us who know deep down that we need more guidance than a friend can provide, is is important to consider seeking the help of a professional life coach who can help a person to learn to refocus their energies to manage arthritis pain in a positive way. A life coach can also help a person establish new goals that they are able to accomplish even if their joints are not completely cooperating. Surfing the web for more information is useful for understanding the benefits of hiring a life coach.

Patient Education Is Important When Living With Arthritis

One of the best things people with arthritis, or any other chronic condition, can do for themselves is to get educated about all aspects of the disease or illness so they can manage their own symptoms. A person knows what makes them feel better, so they can try different methods of managing their pain and learn what works best so they can continue to take the necessary action. For some, it is a combination of medicine, physical therapy, and weight loss. This makes it important to understand what works for each of us and to make a commitment to doing it.

Arthritis is an equal opportunity pain in the neck. Whether a person is an aging baby boomer, or a new millennial, living with arthritis does not have to prevent them from doing all the things they love to do. The operative word here is living with the disease. Making a decision to thrive, not merely survive the pain each day is key. While a person with arthritis pain may not be skiing down a mountain as easily as they once did, or bouncing around a tennis court, they can still enjoy the great outdoors and the equally wonderful indoors by mastering the art of managing their pain so that it does not control your life.

Every day, writer LaGeris Underwood Bell embraces the challenge of managing her arthritis pain and thriving in the midst of that challenge. She knows well the benefits of seeking the services of a life coach for help. More information about life coaches is available at for arthritis sufferers in need of guidance and support.

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Category: Disease Information, Disease Prevention

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