Coping with Osteoarthritis

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, you may be feeling isolated and frustrated. Osteoarthritis can drastically upturn your lifestyle by making you feel like the disease is running you and that you’ve lost control. There are ways to manage the pain and restrictions that come with this debilitating ailment – and the first step is attitude.

Educating yourself about osteoarthritis and what you can do to maintain a positive attitude and develop a plan to keep it from interfering too much with your lifestyle can greatly reduce the impact that this diagnosis has in your life. Besides talking with your health care provider about medications to control the pain and restrictions, talk to her about a plan for your everyday life. When you take charge of the situation, your attitude and outlook should improve.

Some great coping mechanisms that work well in controlling osteoarthritis besides keeping a positive attitude are:

· Relaxation and meditation – If you feel tired during the day – rest. Take a short nap, if possible, and just relax your muscles and joints. Other techniques such as deep breathing should also help. Don’t overdo and become fatigued or experience pain from over tasking your body.

· Gentle exercise – Yoga is a great and gentle exercise for those who have osteoarthritis. You can join a club that offers yoga classes or purchase CDs and DVDs that offer step-by-step lessons. Online information can also be found about yoga exercises. Swimming and water exercises is gentle on the joints as is walking. Just keep it low key and operate at a slow pace.

· Tools that help – You’ll be able to find tools that assist you in everyday tasks – such as a walking cane, grippers and extenders that can help you reach for items stored in top shelves in cabinets or closets. Check out catalogs and supply stores and be sure to ask your doctor what she might recommend.

· Lost weight – Weight increases trauma to bones and joints, so if you’re overweight, attempt to lose some unwanted pounds. It can serve to relieve some of the pressure and the pain associated with osteoarthritis.

· Hot and cold packs and pain creams – Hot and cold packs can help you to manage the pain suffered with osteoarthritis. Heat packs (warm) should be applied to the affected joint for about 20 minutes at a time and several times a day, if needed. Ice packs are also helpful if your joints are inflamed. A word of caution – don’t use cold packs if you experience poor circulation.

Above all, when coping with pain and restrictions caused by osteoarthritis, don’t give up and become sedentary. Take charge of your life and the pain by taking medications regularly, exercising and giving yourself some slack if you need to back off of commitments or plans that you simply don’t feel up to.