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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.
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.
Studies have shown that people who are part of a
support group and who take an education course, such as an arthritis management
course from the Arthritis Foundation, have less pain and depression and are
If your arthritis makes it hard for
you to do your job, talk to your boss about what changes you can make to your
schedule and things you can do to
modify your work area.
You might ask
"good-health attitude" and healthy habits, such as
eating a balanced diet, staying at a healthy weight, and getting enough sleep,
will make you feel better and help you stay active.
think in a positive way, you may be more able
One Woman's Story:
"There are so many things in
our life that we can control. And there are big things that we can't control.
But if we assume control of the things that we can, at least we feel like we're
doing something to make our lives better."—Bev
Read more about Bev and how she learned to cope with arthritis.
If a family member or friend is helping to care for
you, be sure to let that person know how grateful you are for the help.
Keep in mind that your caregiver's life may be changing along with yours.
And he or she may be dealing with some of the same emotions as you are. Talking
is a great way for each of you to share your concerns and support for each
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is the
nationally recognized professional association of approximately 35,000
occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and students of
occupational therapy. AOTA's mission is to advance the quality, availability, use,
and support of occupational therapy through standard-setting, advocacy,
education, and research on behalf of its members and the public.
The Arthritis Foundation provides grants to help find a
cure, prevention methods, and better treatment options for arthritis. It also
provides a large number of community-based services nationwide to make living
with arthritis easier, including self-help courses; water- and land-based
exercise classes; support groups; home study groups; instructional videotapes;
public forums; free educational brochures and booklets; the national, bimonthly
consumer magazine Arthritis Today; and continuing
education courses and publications for health professionals.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal
and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is a governmental institute that serves the public
and health professionals by providing information, locating other information
sources, and participating in a national federal database of health
information. NIAMS supports research into the causes, treatment, and prevention
of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases and supports the training of
scientists to carry out this research.
The NIAMS website provides
health information referrals to the NIAMS Clearinghouse, which has information
packages about diseases.
Friedrich MJ (1999). Steps toward understanding, alleviating osteoarthritis will help aging population. JAMA, 282(11): 1023–1025.
April 8, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
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