How to Tell People You Have Arthritis
Use these tips to easily tell friends and family about your arthritis.
You’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, started treatment and educated yourself about your condition. But have you shared the information with family and friends?
“It’s a good idea to start a conversation with family members and friends – not to get medical advice, but because those who care about you will want to know what you’re experiencing. And it’s an important first step in building your support system,” explains Robert Katz, MD, a rheumatologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
But it’s not always easy to explain or convey what it means to have arthritis. It helps to think in advance about your “elevator speech.” Prepare a short, easy-to-understand summary – what you could say during an elevator ride.
Where should you start and what should you include?
Start with the Basics
Arthritis is a general term and there are many different types. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are very different from one another. Your friends and family will want to understand which condition is affecting you.
It’s also helpful to explain that some types are inflammatory and can affect not just the joints but some organs as well. Other conditions affect just the joints and mostly cause pain and movement problems.
Tone and Look Matters
Focus on the Positive
“Advances in diagnosis and treatment have been impressive and those are important things to share,” Dr. Katz says. “If you’ve gotten an early diagnosis, that’s something else to celebrate. It’s important for all conditions and when it comes to inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis, an early diagnosis and effective treatment can even prevent damage.”
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
- Keeping active - Physical activity keeps your joints moving and builds strength in the muscles supporting your joints. Exercising is more fun with friends, and they can serve as accountability partners too. So enlist your friends to do low-to-moderate impact activities with you – like walking, biking, swimming or water aerobics.
- Taking a field trip - Dr. Katz always recommends patients bring a buddy to their doctor appointments – to take notes and help correctly understand the information. Not only is there a lot to discuss in a short amount of time, but you also may be feeling nervous or rushed. A friend can be your second set of ears.
Stay in the Know. Live in the Yes.
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