Millions of Americans live with arthritis, which occurs in more than 100 forms and in varying levels of severity.
But even among people with similar signs and symptoms, not everyone copes in the same way. Research has shown that people with a positive, proactive attitude are likely to experience less Arthritis pain and fewer limitations from their arthritis than those who are more negative. And when people feel in control, they're more likely to use medical treatment options effectively.
The Mayo Clinic Health Letter October Medical Essay provides a comprehensive look at arthritis and treatment options, including these healthy lifestyle measures that can help people with arthritis cope:
- Reduce stress - Stress increases muscle tension, which can worsen arthritis pain. This can set off a cycle of increased pain, decreased ability to function and greater stress.
- Take time to relax - Meditation, prayer and guided imagery are some ways people calm their minds. Massage, slow and deep breathing, or simply tightening and releasing different muscle groups may help relax muscles. Certain forms of exercise, such as yoga or tai chi, often emphasize relaxation.
- Understand your pain - Learn the difference between pain associated with general joint discomfort and that caused by joint overuse. When pain with a particular activity is excessive, comes on quickly and lasts for more than an hour or two afterward, chances are you're overdoing it or doing an inappropriate activity.
- Know when to rest - The feeling of fatigued joints may be a signal to back off or change activities. Painful, inflamed joints may temporarily require total rest or even an immobilizing splint. Whole body rest also is important. If you have trouble getting a good night's sleep, talk to your doctor about strategies to improve sleep. During the day, rest before you become too tired. Plan 10 minutes of rest for every hour of physical exertion.
Use assistive devices - Many products, such as jar openers, specially designed kitchen knives, devices to extend your reach and aids to help you dress may make common daily tasks less harmful to your joints.