5 Common Mistakes Arthritis Patients Make

Arthritis is a condition you need to manage in order to live your best life. Whether you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or another form of the disease, there are definite steps you need to take. The good news is that a long, active life is possible if you work at controlling the arthritis itself. Unfortunately, some arthritis patients aren't doing all they can to help themselves. Do any of the following utterances sound familiar?

  • "Why should I shop around for a rheumatologist?" Maybe the first doctor you saw when you had symptoms was your primary care physician, and that's who you still call when you have a flare-up. It's important to partner with a good rheumatologist, however, when you have any form of arthritis. Rheumatologists are up on all the latest arthritis medications and treatments and can monitor your condition closely. It's worth making an appointment with not just one rheumatologist but perhaps two or three until you find one you feel confident in and comfortable with.
  • "I'm in too much pain to exercise." Yes, arthritis can cause significant joint discomfort. But becoming a couch potato is a mistake because lying around too much can intensify pain, stiffness, and fatigue. Even during your worst arthritis flare-ups, stay active. Do gentle water exercises to keep your joints limber, stretch, or take moderate walks around the neighborhood.
  • "I can push through the pain." The opposite of the couch potato with arthritis is the arthritis patient who doesn't know when to take it easy. When you have arthritis, you have to learn to pace yourself and alternate periods of activity with periods of rest. This gives your joints a chance to heal and your spirit a chance to restore itself. A good night's sleep can be as good for an arthritis patient as a dose of medicine.
  • "Medicine, schmedicine." Some people just plain hate popping pills. But if you've been prescribed medication to control your arthritis, it's a mistake to let it gather dust in your bathroom cabinet. You may be able to control some of your symptoms with lifestyle and home remedies, but without medication your condition may worsen over time and you can develop complications.
  • "Why bother getting a mammogram/taking vitamins/quitting smoking when I have something much more serious going on?" It's true that arthritis is a serious disease, but having it doesn't excuse you from taking basic care of yourself. Ignoring age-appropriate preventive exams such as colonoscopies, pap smears, chest x-rays, and the like may only add to your health burdens. Taking great care of your arthritis means taking great care of yourself.



Arthritis Foundation, www.arthritis.org