Arthritis Self-Management: What You Need to Know

Follow these eight self-management habits to help you take control of your arthritis.

A diagnosis of arthritis can be overwhelming. You’re dealing with a lot of new information. You may feel worried about the future. And you’re getting used to talking with different health care providers who help you manage your disease. A chronic illness can be a lot to handle but rest assured, you can do it.

You’ll play a big role in getting your disease under control and staying as healthy as possible. The term is called self-management. Self-management is about making healthy lifestyle choices and learning to manage the physical and emotional effects of arthritis. It may feel a little like you’re going back to school but take it one step at a time. You’ll need to learn all you can about your disease and build a strong partnership your doctors. These self-management habits can help you successfully manage your disease:

Management Tips

1. Be Organized

Take charge of your treatment plan by keeping track of symptoms, pain levels, medications and possible side effects so together with your doctor, you can determine what works best for you. Use our health tracker to get started.

2. Manage Pain

You don't want pain to take over your life. Try eight natural pain therapies that can help you feel better. Talk to your doctor about the best medications to ease your pain.

3. Address the Emotional Side

Coping with a new diagnosis and the pain and limitations that may come can wear on you emotionally. Learn more about the emotional effects so you can better manage them.

4. Tackle Fatigue

Fatigue can be a one-two punch. It can be caused by your disease or the daily stress of living with a chronic disease. There are simple ways to manage fatigue.

5. Improve Sleep

Pain and sleep problems can go hand in hand. Pain makes it hard to sleep. Poor sleep can worsen pain. Use these tips for sleeping better to help you get the rest you need.

6. Get Moving

It maybe the last thing you want to do when you're in pain, but exercise will help. It strengthens muscles that support your painful joints, keeps joints mobile, helps you get restful sleep, boosts mood and helps you lose excess pounds that add stress to joints. See how you can start an exercise program.

7. Balance Activity With Rest

Rest is important when your disease is active, and your joints feel painful, swollen or stiff. Lighten your schedule and obligations and ask for help when you need to. Pace yourself throughout your day and take breaks when you can. Get some tips for pacing yourself.

8. Eat a Balanced Diet

Healthy eating (plus exercise) can help you reach and keep a healthy weight. Add anti-inflammatory foods that are rich in antioxidants to help control inflammation. Discover what makes the ultimate arthritis diet.

It may seem like a lot to do but you’re not alone. The Arthritis Foundation wants to be your self-management partner as you manage your disease. Join our Live Yes! Arthritis Network today to make connections and get information and resources to help you live well.

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