Coping With Osteoarthritis - Topic Overview
When you find out that you have
osteoarthritis, you may be scared and worried about
how it may change your life, work, and relationships.
It's hard to
know how fast your arthritis may progress. Your symptoms may come and go, stay
the same, or get worse over time. Some days you may feel fine and be able to do
the things you need—and want—to do with little pain. Other days the pain may be
too much for you to do simple tasks like getting dressed or brushing your
At times you may feel overwhelmed, tired, and angry. You
may be afraid that you might become disabled and not be able to care for
yourself. You may even wonder if you'll be able to continue to work. These
feelings are normal. Most people who have arthritis feel this way at one time
Some people with arthritis also feel down or depressed. They may describe this as feeling "depressed," "unhappy," "short-tempered," "blue," or "down in the dumps." If you feel like this most of the time, tell your doctor. Treating these symptoms may help you feel better and make it easier for you to do your daily tasks.
Ways to cope
Even though living with arthritis
can be stressful, the good news is that you can do some simple things to feel
better and keep the joy in your life and relationships.
- Ask your family and friends for help. Don't be afraid to let people help you with some of your
tasks, especially on days when you have a lot of pain.
- Balance activity with rest. If you get tired when you do a
task, break the task down into smaller tasks, and rest between
- Learn ways to reduce stress. Stress can make your pain feel worse. You might try deep breathing and relaxation exercises or meditation to help reduce stress and relax your mind and
- Meet with friends. At times, you
may not want to go out because you're too tired or don't want to be seen using
a cane or wheelchair. But being social can help you feel better. If you isolate
yourself, you may get depressed.
- See a counselor.Cognitive-behavioral therapy allows you to express
your fears and concerns and learn new ways of coping with
- Be creative. Find ways to still
do the things that you enjoy, but do them in a different way that doesn't cause
pain. For example, plant flowers in a raised garden bed instead of planting
them directly into the ground. Then you won't have to kneel.
- Join a support group. This is a great
place to share your concerns and hear how other people cope with the challenges
of arthritis. Online forums and chat groups are also good places to find
- Keep a pain diary. Write down how
your moods, thoughts, sleep patterns, activities, and medicine affect your
pain. Having a record of your pain can help you and your doctor find the best
ways to treat your pain.
- Educate yourself.
The more you know about arthritis, the more you'll be able to cope with any
lifestyle changes that you may need to make as your symptoms get worse.
Encourage your family and friends to learn about arthritis too. Then they can know
what you're dealing with and learn ways they can help you.