One of the most powerful weapons against arthritis is a positive attitude. Having
an optimistic outlook can increase your ability to control your symptoms and greatly
improve the quality of your life. Thinking you can gain control over your pain and
knowing you can accomplish everyday tasks gives you self-confidence and a sense of
well-being. This self-confidence can boost the effectiveness of your treatment program.
Arthritis can make you feel angry, sad, resentful, irritable, helpless, frustrated,
or afraid. These feelings are normal. But taking an active approach to your illness
can help you overcome these feelings and cope in a more positive way. Here are some
things you can do to improve your outlook:
- Learn as much as you can about osteoarthritis and treatment options; ask your
doctor what to expect.
- Learn how to break your own pain-stress-depression-pain cycle; try visiting with
friends, exercising, relaxing, and other activities you enjoy.
- Be flexible; plan alternate activities or schedules for those times when you
are experiencing pain or are tired.
- Relieve negative feelings with positive activities such as exercising.
- Share your feelings, fears, and concerns with your doctor, family members, and
- Understand that some things are beyond your control; focus on what you can do
and what you can change. Find new activities that you enjoy and that give you a sense
Protect Your Joints
People with arthritis can protect their joints by learning new ways to use them.
You can avoid excessive stress on smaller, more fragile joints by using larger or
stronger joints to carry things. For example, carry grocery bags using your forearms
or the palms of your hands instead of your fingers. Carry food on a tray, using your
forearms and hands instead of your fingers. Use lightweight, plastic dishes. Here
are some other things you can do to limit stress on your joints:
- Use support devices for walking. Using a cane, crutches, or a walker regularly
or whenever you need to can help reduce strain on your hips and knees.
- Using an extra-thick pen puts less stress on your finger joints.
- Long-handled tools and special reaching devices give you better leverage for
tasks such as gardening, cleaning, or getting things off shelves or off the floor.
- Use a bookstand to hold your book at eye level to avoid neck strain from looking
- Arrange furniture for safety and comfort. If possible, avoid the need to climb
stairs by moving your bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen to one floor.
- Install handrails by the toilet and in the bathtub or shower for extra support.
You can also use a raised toilet seat, which is easier to get up from.
- Make sure there's at least one comfortable chair in your home that has armrests
and a firm back for support. Soft couches and chairs can be very difficult to get
out of. If you are short, you should have a comfortable chair that is close enough
to the ground to be easy to get into and out of.
- When lifting an object that is low or on the ground, bend at your knees and lift
by straightening your legs, keeping your back straight. But don't squat or kneel;
these positions put too much stress on your hips and knees.
- When getting up from a chair, slide forward to the edge of the chair, keeping
your feet flat on the floor. Lean forward and push down with the palms of your hands
(not your fingers) on the arms or seat of the chair. If you have wrist pain, get
up by pushing off with your forearms against the top of your thighs. Stand up by
straightening your hips and knees.
- Don't look up for long periods; this can strain your neck. If you're
doing work, such as painting, that requires you to look up for a long time, use a
ladder to bring yourself to the same level as your work.
- If you need to hold something tightly, such as a tool or a heavy skillet, wear
thick gloves to reduce the force you put on the joints in your hand.
- Never squat or kneel; these positions put too much stress on your hips and knees.
- Wear well-cushioned athletic shoes with good support whenever you can. For dress
shoes, wear shoes with a heel no higher than 1 inch and that have a wide toe area
and good arch support. Men should wear lace-up oxfords rather than slip-ons such
as loafers (which provide less support).
Ask for Help When You Need It
Your family members and friends can play a critical role in helping you learn to
live with arthritis. People who have the loving support of others do better in all
areas of managing their illness. Talking with loved ones about the difficulties you
are having can help prevent depression and improve your ability to cope with your
illness. Don't be afraid to ask for help whenever you need it. People are willing
to helpthey usually just need to be asked.
Osteoarthritis Case Study |