It can be difficult to cope with osteoarthritis symptoms that interfere with usual activities of daily living. The best way to cope with physical limitations is to know you are doing everything you can do in terms of pain relief and improving physical function. There are actions which will improve your ability to cope. Read the list and ask yourself if you are doing the right things:
- Recognize early signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. Consult with a doctor about the observed symptoms and get an accurate diagnosis.
- Once you have been diagnosed and have decided on treatment options, be compliant with your treatment plan.
- Assess and periodically re-assess your treatment options with your doctor. Have you considered all medication options? Have you tried injections, non-drug treatments, alternative treatments, and joint surgery?
- Protect your joints and avoid excess stress and strain on your joints. Consider wearing a support or orthotic. Use assistive devices and adaptive equipment when needed.
- Don't fall into the sedentary trap. Regular exercise and physical activity will enhance your ability to cope with pain and limitations. Daily range of motion exercises and strengthening exercises should be included in your routine.
- Eat well and take a daily multivitamin for better health overall. Including antioxidants in your diet has been touted as being beneficial for osteoarthritis patients.
- Don't let pain rule your life. Carve out time for leisure activities you enjoy, whether it is listening to music, reading, playing with your pet, or watching a movie.
- Don't forget to pamper yourself: get your hair cut, a pedicure, a massage, a spa treatment. Make the effort to feel better.
- Get away and change your surroundings, even if it's just for a day trip. A change of scenery is likely to spark a good mood and relieve stress.
- Help family and friends understand what is most difficult for you. Ask for help when you need it. You won't be able to do everything you did before osteoarthritis but you should do what you can for as long as you can.
- Make adjustments to your work if necessary. Request a different work schedule or a light-duty position.
- Keep a diary or journal. It can help you remember things to tell the doctor and it can allow you an outlet for venting frustration.
- Get support wherever you can find it. There are online support groups and local support groups. Surround yourself with people who understand first-hand.
- Don't forget to balance rest and activity. While it's very important to stay active, it's equally important to get enough rest. Balance is what should be emphasized.
- Stay informed. Be knowledgeable about osteoarthritis. Keep current on osteoarthritis news. Suffice to say, if you are well-informed and embracing life through positive actions, you are coping well.
How to Care for Yourself. Arthritis Foundation. 8/12/2007.
The Impact of Osteoarthritis of the Knee. AAOS. 4/2003.