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What Can I do If I Have Arthritis?

Early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis can help people with arthritis decrease pain, improve function and stay productive.

Learn Arthritis Management Strategies
Learning techniques to reduce pain and limitations can be beneficial to people with arthritis. The Self-management education program, Better Choices, Better Health and Tomando Control de su Salud  (culturally appropriate Spanish version) can help you develop the skills and confidence you need to manage your arthritis on a day to day basis. These programs are designed to help you gain self-confidence in your ability to control your condition. The workshops focus on issues common to individuals dealing with chronic conditions such as pain management, emotions, nutrition, exercise, medication use, and communicating with doctors.  These interactive workshops meet 2 ½ hours a week for six weeks and are facilitated by a pair of leaders one or both of whom are non-health professionals with a chronic disease themselves. 

Be Active
Research has shown that physical activity decreases pain, improves function, and delays disability. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes (can be broken into 10 minute sessions throughout the day) of moderate physical activity at least 5 days a week.  You can do physical activity on your own, such as walking, biking or swimming or you can participate in a program where the instructors are trained and the exercises are known to be safe for people with arthritis. Programs such as Walk With Ease (WWE) which is a walking program that can be done in a group or alone, and group exercise classes such as Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (AFEP) and Enhance Fitness are all excellent choices.

Watch Your Weight
The prevalence of arthritis increases with increasing weight. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression. A loss of just 11 pounds can decrease your risk of developing knee osteoarthritis, and a modest weight loss (5%) can help reduce pain and disability. Download more information on weight management.

See Your Doctor
Although there is no cure for most types of arthritis, early diagnosis and appropriate management is important, especially for inflammatory types of arthritis. For example, early use of disease-modifying drugs can change the course of rheumatoid arthritis. If you have symptoms of arthritis, see your doctor and begin appropriate management of your condition.

Protect Your Joints
Joint injury can lead to osteoarthritis. People who experience sports or occupational injuries or have jobs with repetitive motions like repeated knee bending have more osteoarthritis. Avoid joint injury to reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis.  Dowload more information on protecting your joints