An arthritis diagnosis often comes after several months pain and swelling in your joints. It may feel overwhelming to receive this diagnosis, but there are things you can do to manage arthritis, lead an active lifestyle, and maintain a good quality of life.
In this post, our internal medicine experts at Samuel Fink, MD, share simple and practical strategies to keep your arthritis symptoms in check and get relief from pain so you can get back to the things you enjoy.
Talk to your doctor
An accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan are key to successfully managing arthritis. The goal is to minimize your symptoms, lower your risk of complications, and prevent your arthritis from getting worse.
Dr. Samuel Fink encourages patients to take an active role in their treatment. The first step is attending regular appointments and following your recommended treatment plan.
Talk to your care team about your symptoms, discuss your concerns, and get answers to your questions so you have a good grasp on what an arthritis diagnosis means for you.
Learn about self-management programs
Educational resources for newly diagnosed patients provide guidance so you know what to do after learning that you have arthritis. Self-management programs include community-based programs that help you learn strategies you can apply in your day-to-day life to manage your arthritis. Benefits include:
- Lowering stress
- Reducing symptoms
- Feeling empowered and more in control of your condition
Manage your weight
About 70% of American adults are classified as overweight or obese. Carrying excess weight has a negative impact on many parts of the body, including your joints. Too much weight places stress on your joints, contributing to inflammation, and increasing wear-and-tear.
If your doctor has told you that you’re overweight, losing even a modest amount of weight can greatly relieve the stress on your joints. Weight-bearing joints such as your knees and hips take the bulk of the stress. This makes slimming down especially beneficial if you have arthritis in these areas.
Exercise is likely the furthest thing from your mind when you have stiff, aching joints. While it’s a natural instinct to reduce your activity when your joints ache, doing so can make matters worse.
High-impact exercise isn’t recommended if you have arthritis, but low-impact exercise such as swimming, walking, and bicycling are beneficial. Staying active improves your flexibility and mobility and strengthens the muscles and structures surrounding your arthritic joint. The result is less pain and better function of the joint.
It’s best to build up to 30 minutes of low-impact exercise at least five times a week.
Adopt an arthritis-friendly diet
In addition to staying active, keeping your weight down, and forming a collaborative partnership with your health care provider, living well with arthritis means eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Inflammation is a driving component of arthritis. Foods you choose to include or omit from your diet can contribute to inflammation or ease it. While there’s no single arthritis diet to follow, a well-balanced diet for anyone with arthritis should include plenty of green leafy vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, lean protein, and whole grains.
Some foods are considered pro-inflammatory, meaning they may contribute to inflammation. Highly processed foods and fried foods are known offenders. Foods high in salt, as well as foods loaded with preservatives are red-flag foods to steer clear of.
If you have arthritis, Dr. Fink can help you get in the driver’s seat and successfully manage your symptoms. To learn more, contact our office in Tarzana, California, to schedule a consultation. You can also request an appointment online.