If you have pain, stiffness or swelling in or around a joint for more than
two weeks, it's time to see your doctor. These symptoms can develop suddenly
or slowly. Only a doctor can tell if it's arthritis. But "you have
arthritis" is not a diagnosis. Ask for a specific diagnosis of the type
of arthritis you have. There are more than 100 types, each of which has
different treatments. Getting the right treatment requires getting the right
The earlier an accurate diagnosis is made and treatment started, the better.
Early treatment can often mean less joint damage and less pain. Your doctor may
recommend a combination of treatments that may include medication, weight
management, exercise, use of heat or cold, and methods to protect your joints
from further damage. See your doctor for an early diagnosis and immediate
treatment plan! In addition, you need to pay attention to your health condition
and take care of yourself so that you may not suffer from arthritis as much as
you would otherwise:
You need to avoid excess stress on your joints. Use larger or stronger
joints to carry things. Assistive devices can make tasks at home and work
easier. Staying close to your recommended weight also helps relieve damaging
pressure on hips and knees.
Exercise helps lessen pain, increases range of movement, reduces fatigue
and helps you feel better overall. Your doctor, a physical therapist, or other
specially trained health professionals can show you range-of-motion exercises
and strengthening exercises that are good for arthritis. The Arthritis
Foundation also offers water exercise and other classes. Contact your local
office for details.
Choose your favorite spots (indoors and out) and make plans to walk them at
least once a week. Walking is the ideal exercise for most people with
arthritis. It burns calories, strengthens muscles and builds denser bones- all
without jarring fragile joints. Want to know more about walking as exercise?
Try our Walk with Ease II program.
- Get appropriate nutrition
If you are looking for a tasty healthy treat, reach for an orange- or a
tall glass of orange juice. Why? Recent research has shown the importance of
vitamin C and other antioxidants in reducing the risk of osteoarthritis and
its progression. Another bonus: oranges and other citrus fruits are good
sources of folic acid, which can help alleviate the side effects of the
arthritis drug methotrexate and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in
women who have lupus.
Stock up on your favorite source of calcium. A diet rich in this important
mineral can help decrease your risk of osteoporosis. If you don't like
drinking milk- or want some variety- try consuming more milk products, such as
yogurt, cheese and ice cream. Or add powdered milk to puddings, gravies,
shakes and other recipes. Other good sources of calcium: broccoli, salmon
(with the bones) and kale.
Put up the pastry and grab some fruit, fiber (like oatmeal) and a tall
glass of water instead of coffee. Like you've always heard, a healthful
breakfast is a great way to start the day. Our free brochure on diet and
arthritis can tell you more about healthier eating.
- Get updated with new procedures
In the past two years, the FDA has approved several drugs for rheumatoid
arthritis, osteoarthritis and other arthritis-related diseases. If your
current medication isn't working as well as you'd like- or if it's causing
unacceptable side effects- ask your doctor about these new treatment options.
Check out the online drug guide and supplement guide.
Learn something new about arthritis. Building an understanding of your
disease is an important step in managing it. Start by ordering some of our
Read a book of jokes, rent a funny movie or watch your favorite sit-com or
stand-up comedian. Laughing- even when you feel like crying from agony- can
relax muscles, relieve pain and even boost your immune system.
- Protect yourself in the sun
Protect yourself when you go out into the sun - wear sunglasses, a hat and
sun screen. Some forms of arthritis, as well as certain medications, can leave
you more vulnerable to the sun's harmful rays.
- Relieve burden on your joints
Lose weight. You won't just look better, you'll feel better, too. Why?
Every extra pound you carry around translates to added stress to your knees
and hips. Excess weight can mean more pain, no matter which form of arthritis
you have. It can also contribute to and aggravate osteoarthritis, while
increasing your risk of gout. Learn more in the Exercise Center.
A warm bath before bed can relieve muscle tension, ease aching joints and
help you get a good night's sleep. Try our free brochure on ways to manage
your pain for more ideas.
Find a certified massage therapist and treat
yourself to a good rub down. The benefits vary from person to person but may
include decreased pain and increased circulation, energy and flexibility.
And besides, it just feels good.
Do something that will make your job easier - check
into working flex hours, telecommuting or working part-time. No matter where
or when you work, take frequent breaks to stretch stiff joints and sore
muscles. Visit the arthritis in the workplace section for more insights.
Stretching is a simple way to keep joints and
muscles flexible. It relieves stress and can help enable you to maintain
your daily activities. Try this to keep your calf muscles strong and
flexible: Stand two feet from a wall, with your toes pointed inward palms
against the wall. Keeping your knees straight and feet flat, lean forward
onto your hands without bending at the waist. Feel your calf muscles pull
and extend. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then gently push away from
the wall. Repeat. There's even more in our free brochures on exercise and