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Living With and Beyond Arthritis | Stem Cell, PRP, Acupuncture in Queens & Long Island, New York

Living With and Beyond Arthritis
Living With and Beyond Arthritis

 

How Does Arthritis Affect People?

Living with arthritis can be very difficult; as with any other chronic condition it affects people to different degrees and varies in severity. Depending on the type of arthritis you live with and how severe your symptoms are, you may be able to function with very little pain or problems with mobility, or your pain may be severe and impact daily functioning significantly.

Arthritis can affect every aspect of daily life, including someone’s ability to work, exercise, and engage in daily activities. This study found that “Musculoskeletal disorders are associated with some of the poorest quality‐of‐life issues, particularly in terms of bodily pain and physical functioning.”

My mother has had arthritis since before I was born; growing up I remember how it affected her. She has always had a limp from arthritis combined with other comorbid health conditions, and this affected how she was able to work, exercise, and function. While she was in pain, she still managed to work throughout my life and maintain an admirable level of functioning; for some people work is possible and for others, arthritis is more disabling.

We have always cycled as a family, we used to go on many cycling holidays, and earlier in my life my mother was able to keep up with us, as her osteoarthritis progressed this became harder. Rather than letting it stop her, however, she had adapted bikes to help her keep going, often with motors that took some of the pressure off her joints. She also uses a stick to help her walk, a walk-in shower and an adapted car to allow her to drive; some arthritis patients will use mobility aids ranging from walking sticks, mobility scooters, and wheelchairs.

I first noticed signs of osteoarthritis in my mid-twenties, in my knees, spine, and feet. It is tough to live with and it’s something that you must consider in most aspects of your life. Sometimes I use a walking stick if I am struggling and other times, I can walk unaided; I have a handle in the shower to help me to get in and out of the bath if I am unsteady on my feet.

I can carry out most daily functions and I work full time; I ensure that I take breaks when I need them and ask for help with tasks if I feel that I have done too much. As my arthritis progresses, I may need to make other adjustments, but right now my functioning is at a high level.

Living Beyond Arthritis

As well as the many treatment options available from medical professionals, a lot of the management of arthritis comes from the individual in their home environment day to day, practicing self-care. This study explains that self-management plays a big part in managing arthritis and defines this approach as, “learning and practicing the skills necessary to carry on an active and emotionally satisfying life in the face of a chronic illness”

If you struggle with arthritis, there are ways that you can help yourself and improve your quality of life.

Eating Well - There’s no one special diet for those with arthritis but eating a healthy and well-balanced diet helps to give your body the best chance it can to function well.

Managing Your Weight - Being overweight puts more strain on the joints, so keeping your weight under control is something that you can be proactive with and can see a big difference in the reduction of symptoms as you reach a healthier weight. Eating well, reducing sugar and fat in your diet, and exercising regularly can help you to get your weight to a healthy level and to maintain a healthy weight.

Regular Gentle Exercise - With arthritis, your joints typically feel sorer and stiffer after exercise; this can lead to people withdrawing from exercise because they are afraid, they are damaging their joints more. This worsening of symptoms after exercise does not mean that you are damaging your joints; in fact, gentle exercise is vital to strengthen the muscles around arthritic joints.

Exercise has even been proven to reduce pain and inflammation in arthritis patients, reduce the risk of falling, improve mood and so much more as explained here.

Exercises like walking, swimming, and yoga can be great to keep your body moving without putting too much strain on your joints.

It’s a good idea to discuss a new exercise regime with your doctor to ensure that it works for your personal situation; talking about it first can also help increase your confidence and reassure you that you are doing the best thing for your health.

Know Your Limits - It’s to learn how to balance gentle exercise with rest; there’s value to taking breaks and learning where your limits are regarding pain. While low-impact activities with rests in between are positive, high-impact activities and pushing yourself too far are detrimental to arthritis patients.

Mindfulness Techniques - Mindfulness techniques such as meditation can help you to release muscle tension and reduce stress; this, in turn, reduces pain.

Maintain A Good Sleep Pattern - If you struggle with a chronic condition, you’ll know that sleeping well is easier said than done. However, doing all you can to keep a good sleep routine is beneficial to reduce stress, reduce inflammatory hormones, and therefore reduce pain. Not only that but it gives you the energy you need to keep functioning. Small changes like being more active during the day, not drinking caffeine before bed, and winding down before you try to sleep can make a big difference.

Social Interaction - Social withdrawal is common when people are in pain; maintaining those social connections is good for your mood, it keeps you active and allows you to have the support that we all need, especially when we have extra challenges in our lives.

Changing Positions Regularly - Sitting or lying in the same position can make joints stiffer; remember to stay active and change positions regularly to keep your joints supple.

Using Heat And Cold - Arthritis patients often find that using heat like hot water bottles and heating pads can help to relieve pain. Sometimes cold compresses and ice can be effective. My mother swears by alternating between the two to gain relief from symptoms.

Using Mobility Aids - If there are aids that have been advised by your medical professionals, then use them; there’s no shame in using mobility aids. They are designed to help you be more mobile, to help you increase functioning, and are certainly not a sign of having given up. If there are aids you feel that you could use around the house, don’t be afraid to seek them out yourself or ask your doctor about them.

From my own experience watching my mother cope with arthritis and now dealing with it myself, I know that it can be hard, but I also know that it doesn’t have to stop you from living the life you want! You can learn to work around it, reduce symptoms, and thrive.

Precision Pain Care and Rehabilitation has two convenient locations in Richmond Hill – Queens and New Hyde Park – Long Island. Call the Richmond Hill office at (718) 215-1888, or (516) 419-4480 for the Long Island office, to arrange an appointment with our Interventional Pain Management Specialist, Dr. Jeffrey Chacko.

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