An arthritis diagnosis can hit you hard. You may have many questions about what this means for your health. You may be unsure if you’ll still be able to participate in sports and activities that you love. Don’t let your diagnosis overwhelm you. Here are five things you should do after you’re diagnosed with arthritis.
1. Learn About the Type of Arthritis You Have
There are two types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While they can cause similar symptoms, the root cause is different in each case. Learning about your specific type of arthritis can help you find the tools you need to help you thrive. Ask your doctor for resources to help you understand the changes happening in your body.
2. Visit Your Doctor for Treatment
Once you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, your doctor will help you come up with a treatment plan. This treatment will look different depending on the type of arthritis affecting you. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may be put on immunosuppressant drugs to keep your immune system from damaging your joints.
Whether you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you will likely be treated with corticosteroids. These steroids can be taken orally or through a shot into your affected joints. The effects from a steroid shot can last for months before you need another treatment.
3. Don’t Give Up Your Activities
Arthritis can make it painful to partake in activities that you used to enjoy. However, with the right treatment plan, you can still do all the things that you love. In fact, regular exercise is actually good for people who suffer from arthritis. When you don’t exercise regularly, you can lose flexibility, and your muscles will atrophy, which can lead to worsening arthritis symptoms.
You may want to work special exercises and stretches designed for people with arthritis into your fitness routine. It is fine to push past a little initial discomfort when exercising, but always stop immediately if you feel sharp or severe pain, in order to avoid injury. If you’re not sure if a certain exercise is good for you, consult with your doctor before beginning.
4. Make Sure to Get the Right Gear
When you’re suffering from arthritis, the aids you use to exercise and navigate your day can make a huge positive impact on your quality of life. Ask your doctor or physical therapist to recommend shoes that are good for people suffering from joint pain and make sure to replace them when they get worn out. Proper foot support can change your posture and place less pressure on your knees.
You may also want to invest in braces to wrap your affected joints when your arthritis pain flares up. Knee braces are easy to put on and easily cleaned by throwing them in the washing machine. They can stabilize weak joints, and the pressure can help to reduce some of your discomfort.
5. Seek Surgical Treatment for Severe Arthritis
In some cases, you may find that your arthritis worsens over time, even with self-care and medical treatment. Rest assured, there are still options available to you. Your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the affected area, but you should know that total joint replacement isn’t always necessary.
If your knees are troubling you, the Noyes Knee Institute can evaluate you and perform surgery such as partial knee replacement. We can even perform meniscus transplantation, which involves replacing your kneecap with the kneecap of a deceased donor.
These are just a few of the ways you can cope with an arthritis diagnosis. Arthritis means you may have to make some changes to accommodate the disease, but you will still be able to live a full and happy life. Take your health into your own hands by trying these five tips.