Tips and Tools for Living with Arthritis
Posted by Medavie Blue Cross on March 14, 2022
Editor’s Note: The following is a summary of a Facebook Live presentation given by Danielle Hogg, Occupational Therapist with the Arthritis Society, as part of our Medavie Benefits+ Health and Wellness Series.
Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint, which is anywhere in your body where two bones meet. There are more than 100 joints connecting the body's 206 bones. Arthritis can affect one joint or many joints; it depends on each person. Arthritis can cause:
Those with arthritis experience varying forms of disability, ranging from having difficulty brushing their hair, not being able to hold a pencil, not being able to participate in strenuous physical activities or even go to work.
Experiencing symptoms but not sure if you have arthritis? The Arthritis Society has an online symptom checker which you can use to discuss your symptoms with your doctor or other healthcare professionals.
Knowledge is critical! Arthritis can make you feel as though it’s taking your experiences, joy and life away from you. But with the right knowledge and lifestyle, you can manage your arthritis and maybe even flourish. Know the warning signs of arthritis and obtain early diagnosis and treatment to minimize potential joint damage. The Arthritis Society has many online learning modules to help people with arthritis by providing information on ways to cope with the effects of arthritis.
Learn to read your body. When symptoms of arthritis flare up, they can be disruptive and feel largely out of your control. However, you can influence some external factors that may contribute to the severity and frequency of your symptoms. Stress, for example, can aggravate arthritis symptoms. Being attuned to your body will help you take better care of yourself.
Pay attention to what you eat. With a diagnosis of arthritis, it’s more important than ever to eat a wholesome diet, one that supports feeling well and a healthy weight. Managing your inflammation can also be supported by paying attention to the effects of certain foods on your body. It is important to figure out how you respond to what you eat. Add this to your symptom journal if you keep one. However, before you change your diet, talk to your healthcare professional about your plans.
Enjoy taking care of yourself. Give yourself the time and permission to look after yourself. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation to calm your mind. Pamper your joints in warm baths or visit a pool with a hot tub. Get enough sleep. Take pleasure in cooking yourself food that makes you feel good. The time you spend taking care of your health is never wasted time.
Keep moving. Keeping active and strong is an important part of managing your disease. However, intense forms of exercise may not be realistic or beneficial for you in the long term. If you don’t already participate in some form of low-impact activity, this is an opportunity to try something new. Keeping your muscles strong helps support your joints, so you may want to talk with a physiotherapist about exercises that target areas weakened by flare ups.
Focus on the possibilities, not the pain. You might feel frustrated at times and that’s okay, but there is power in positivity, so keep your focus on what you can do, not on what you can't. Celebrate the small victories, and the days when you feel great. And above all, be patient with yourself and kind to your body.
Speak up, seek help. Once diagnosed, work with your whole healthcare team to create a treatment plan that works for you There are different healthcare professionals available to help you manage your arthritis, including your family doctor and pharmacist, dietitians and occupational therapists. Remember – you are not alone when coping with arthritis. That being said, no one will know to help you unless you speak up!
Be your greatest advocate. Taking an active role in your care can include:
Contact the Arthritis Society to become educated about arthritis and take advantage of their programs and services. Dial toll-free at 1-800-321-1433 or email [email protected].
Visit the Arthritis Society
website to find resources, online learning, health and wellness advice, self-management tips, inspirational stories, and much more.
Information sessions are hosted monthly via Facebook Live on key contributors to our health and wellness by our Medavie Benefits+ Centre in Halifax.
All Facebook Lives are recorded and saved on our Facebook page so you can come back and watch them at your convenience, including this recording from our session on arthritis.
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