What should I do to cope with osteoarthritis?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Osteoarthritis is a debilitating condition and can be difficult to cope with. You need all the help you can get. To cope with your osteoarthritis, start with a visit to your doctor to discuss treatment that’s right for you. Here are some additional things you can do to cope:

  • Take your medications on time and follow your doctor's directions.
  • Use family and friends as support.
  • Exercise and find time to rest.
  • Reduce stress through relaxation, music, massage, yoga and getting enough sleep.
  • See a social worker or counselor.
  • Share your concerns with a support group of people who have arthritis too.
  • Keep a pain journal to document your symptoms or yourself and your doctor.
  • Stay educated about your condition.
  • Consider buying gadgets like jar openers and zipper pulls to make everyday tasks easier.
  • Make adjustments to furniture and fixtures, to make it easier and safer for you to get around the home and take care of everyday tasks without assistance. Move furniture to create plenty of space to walk around a room, keep lamp cords tucked away, make sure rooms and stairways are well-lit, and add back and neck supports to chairs, the sofa and the bed.
  • Install a raised toilet seat, replace the tub with a walk-in model or with a shower stall, and add handrails on the staircase or in the bathroom.

Daily management of osteoarthritis requires reducing strain on the affected joint and managing pain and inflammation. Ways to reduce strain include keeping your weight at a healthy level, using supportive devices such as a cane, brace or shoe inserts; and taking breaks throughout the day to rest the affected joint. Pain and inflammation can be managed with acupuncture or massage and applications of heating pad and ice packs on the inflamed joint. You might also try topical creams that have pain relieving medications. Finally, a doctor may also recommend over-the-counter or possibly prescription drugs to help with the pain and swelling on a daily basis.

Learn all you can about the condition by attending doctor's appointments, asking questions and researching osteoarthritis. Once you are educated about osteoarthritis, you can work out a plan to help manage the disease.

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Coping with osteoarthritis (OA) can be very challenging, but you like a good challenge, right? There's a lot you can do to deal with your OA. The most important step is to learn all you can about the disease and how it affects you. The more you understand about OA, the more motivated you'll be to help yourself by losing weight and being more physically active. Your knowledge will allow you to feel that you're in charge of your OA and not that it's in charge of you.

Here are some simple steps you can take on your own can help you manage the pain, stiffness and other symptoms of osteoarthritis:

  • Get some physical activity every day. Strong, well-exercised joints are less painful and retain greater mobility. If you already exercise regularly, you may need to try different activities. Instead of jogging or playing basketball, walking or swimming may be better choices.
  • Watch what you eat, especially if you're overweight. Extra pounds add pressure on your joints. If you need to lose weight, your doctor can advise you on the best approach.
  • Use hot and cold therapy. Ice packs can help reduce pain, while heating pads may soothe your joints.

Helping someone with osteoarthritis (OA) is easy, just be there for him or her. Often the person with OA can tell you specifically what help he or she needs. For example, he or she may need help with grocery shopping. Sometimes people with OA need emotional support as they struggle to adapt to the pain and limitations OA can cause. A sympathetic ear may be the best way to help.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.