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National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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Who Treats Osteoarthritis? continued...

Physiatrists (rehabilitation specialists): medical doctors who help patients make the most of their physical potential.

Licensed acupuncture therapists: health professionals who reduce pain and improve physical functioning by inserting fine needles into the skin at specific points on the body.

Psychologists: health professionals who seek to help patients cope with difficulties in the home and workplace resulting from their medical conditions.

Social workers: professionals who assist patients with social challenges caused by disability, unemployment, financial hardships, home health care, and other needs resulting from their medical conditions.

What You Can Do: The Importance of Self-Care and a Good-Health Attitude

While health care professionals can prescribe or recommend treatments to help you manage your arthritis, the real key to living well with the disease is you. Research shows that people with osteoarthritis who take part in their own care report less pain and make fewer doctor visits. They also enjoy a better quality of life.

Living well and enjoying good health despite arthritis requires an everyday lifelong commitment. Following are six habits worth committing to:

1. Get educated: To live well with osteoarthritis, it pays to learn as much as you can about the disease. Three kinds of programs help people understand osteoarthritis, learn selfcare, and improve their good-health attitude. They are:

  • patient education programs
  • arthritis self-management programs
  • arthritis support groups.

These programs teach people about osteoarthritis, its treatments, exercise and relaxation, patient and health care provider communication, and problem solving. Research has shown that people who participate in these programs are more likely to have positive outcomes.

Self-Management Programs Do Help

People with osteoarthritis find that self-management programs help them:

  • understand the disease
  • reduce pain while remaining active
  • cope physically, emotionally, and mentally
  • have greater control over the disease
  • build confidence in their ability to live an active, independent life.

2. Stay active: Regular physical activity plays a key role in self-care and wellness. Three types of exercise are important in osteoarthritis management. The first type, strengthening exercises, help keep or increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help support and protect joints affected by arthritis. The second type, aerobic conditioning exercises, improve cardiovascular fitness, help control weight, and improve overall function. The third type, range-of-motion exercises, help reduce stiffness and maintain or increase proper joint movement and flexibility.

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