5 Ways to Manage Arthritis

Arthritis

There are a lot of things you can do to manage your arthritis. The day-to-day things you choose to do to manage your condition and stay healthy are “self-management” strategies and activities. CDC’s Arthritis Program recognizes five self-management strategies for managing arthritis and its symptoms.

Practice these simple strategies to reduce symptoms and get relief so you can pursue the activities that are important to you. These strategies can even help you manage other chronic conditions you have.

1.Learn new self-management skills

Join a self-management education workshop, which can help you learn the skills to manage your arthritis and make good decisions about your health.

How can a self-management education workshop help me?

Learning strategies to better manage your arthritis can help you:

  • Feel more in control of your health.
  • Manage pain and other symptoms.
  • Carry out daily activities, like going to work and spending time with loved ones.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Improve your mood.
  • Communicate better with your health care provider(s) about your care.

Healing Arthritis in 3 simple steps (for good)

2.Be Active

Physical activity is a simple and effective, non-drug way to relieve arthritis pain. Being physically active can reduce pain, improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis. Regular physical activity can also reduce your risk of developing other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. It can help you manage these conditions if you already have them.

Stay as active as your health allows, and change your activity level depending on your arthritis symptoms. Some physical activity is better than none.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults be physically active at a moderate intensity for 150 minutes per week. Visit the health.gov website to learn more about the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americansexternal icon.

Unsure about what kind of activity is safe?

Get more information about how to exercise safely with arthritis or find a community program near you. Physical activity community programs—like Enhanced®Fitness, Walk With Ease, and others—help adults with arthritis be healthier and reduce arthritis symptoms.

3.Talk to your doctor

Talk to your doctor if you have joint pain and other arthritis symptoms. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible so you can start treatment and work to minimize symptoms and prevent the disease from getting worse.

The focus of arthritis treatment is to

  • Reduce pain.
  • Minimize joint damage.
  • Improve or maintain function and quality of life

You can play an active role in controlling your arthritis by attending regular appointments with your health care provider and following your recommended treatment plan. This is especially important if you also have other chronic conditions, like diabetes or heart disease.

4.Manage your weight

Losing excess weight and staying at a healthy weight is particularly important for people with arthritis. For people who are overweight or obese, losing weight reduces stress on joints, particularly weight bearing joints like the hips and knees. In fact, losing as little as 10 to 12 pounds can improve pain and function for people with arthritis. At any age, low-impact, arthritis-friendly physical activity (like walking) and dietary changes can help you lose weight.

Healing Arthritis in 3 simple steps (for good)

5.Protect your joints

Joint injuries can cause or worsen arthritis. Choose activities that are easy on the joints like walking, bicycling, and swimming. These low-impact activities have a low risk of injury and do not twist or put too much stress on the joints. Learn more about how to exercise safely with arthritis.

Sports- or work-related injuries to joints can increase the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis. To reduce the likelihood of developing or worsening osteoarthritis, take steps to minimize or prevent injuries to joints, such as wearing protective equipment and avoiding repetitive motion joint damage.

Treating and Managing Arthritis

1. How is arthritis treated?

The focus of arthritis treatment is to:

  • Control pain.
  • Minimize joint damage.
  • Improve or maintain physical function and quality of life.

In inflammatory types of arthritis, it is also important to control inflammation. According to the American College of Rheumatology, arthritis treatment can include medications, nondrug therapies such as physical therapy or patient education, and sometimes surgery.  Managing your arthritis symptoms is very important as well.

2.What can you do to manage your arthritis?

Properly managing your arthritis can help you:

  • Decrease pain.
  • Improve function.
  • Stay productive.
  • Lower health care costs.

Self-management is what you do day-to-day to manage your condition and stay healthy. Practice proven self-management strategies to reduce arthritis pain so you can pursue the activities that are important to you.

Tips for managing your pain during and after exercise

  • Until your pain improves, modify your physical activity program by exercising less frequently (days per week), for shorter periods of time (amount of time each session), or with less intensity.
  • Try a different type of exercise to reduce pressure on your joints—for example, switch from walking to water aerobics.
  • Do proper warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise.
  • Exercise at a comfortable pace—you should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising.
  • Make sure you have good fitting, comfortable shoes.

Healing Arthritis in 3 simple steps (for good)