Living Well with Arthritis

Each day, millions of people are faced with the challenges of living with arthritis — a debilitating condition that can make it difficult to perform daily activities, function at work, or simply move around. With nearly 1 out of 4 adults currently diagnosed, arthritis is a leading cause of disability across the United States.

Now that National Arthritis Awareness Month is here, we have an ideal opportunity to build a better understanding of this prevalent disease, and discover strategies that can help make daily life more manageable.

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to help provide relief from pain and discomfort associated with arthritis.


Understanding the Basics


Arthritis is a chronic disease that causes inflammation of the joints, often leading to stiffness, pain, and reduced mobility. There are many varieties of arthritis — each with its own unique set of symptoms and treatment options. However, the two most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


  • Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder that affects the entire joint, including bone, cartilage, and ligaments. This type of arthritis occurs when cartilage and other tissues around the joint break down. This condition can be exacerbated by overuse of the joints, injury, or stress – and generally occurs gradually over time.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory disorder in which the immune system becomes overactive and attacks healthy tissues, beginning with the lining of joints. It can also affect other organs, such as the heart and lungs. It is thought that a variety of factors — including genetics, environmental conditions, and hormonal makeup — may contribute to its development.


Many factors beyond our control may affect the onset and severity of arthritis, including family history, gender, and age. Other common risk factors include obesity, smoking, infection around the joints, and previous injury or over-use of joints.


Finding a Plan that Works for You


Arthritis can affect each patient differently. That’s why understanding the condition and discovering which techniques work best can help with managing the effects of this disease. Working together with your healthcare team and communicating your symptoms will help to produce a personalized plan that works for you.

Here are just a few tips that the CDC and the Arthritis Foundation suggest:

  • Stay Active. Patients may find it helpful to participate in “joint-friendly” low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, or biking – as well as exercises for flexibility and balance such as yoga and tai chi. It’s recommended that patients aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Remember to consult your physician before starting an exercise routine, and always start slow and monitor how your body tolerates the activity.

  • Use Heat and Cold. Both hot and cold treatments can help temporarily ease pain and stiffness. Soaking in warm water or applying a hot compress can help to relieve soreness and relax muscles. Cold applications can help to numb pain and reduce swelling when sudden flareups or stress injuries occur.

  • Keep Track of Pain. A flare tracker is one useful way patients can keep track of their symptoms and take note of factors surrounding them on a daily basis. This information can then be shared with a medical provider to help develop an effective treatment plan and adjust it as needed over time.


Know the Facts — Spread Awareness

Living with arthritis can be challenging — sometimes making the simplest of tasks seem difficult. But working together with arthritis specialists to develop appropriate treatment plans, as well as adopting healthier habits, can help patients live more comfortably. This month, let’s take the time to learn, ask questions, and share information that can help patients manage their symptoms and make better informed decisions.



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