Helping patients manage arthritis

  • There are a variety of classes, programs and exercises to help patients diagnosed with arthritis. The following tips from the CDC can help patients self-manage their pain, minimize joint damage and improve/maintain function and quality of life.

  • The Arthritis Foundation Self-Help Program is an effective self-management education intervention for people with arthritis. The course helps patients learn and practice the different techniques needed to build an individualized self-management program. One year after participation in the program, people continue to report greater confidence in their ability to manage their arthritis.

  • Online courses and groups can also help provide patients with resources to self-manage their arthritis. The Arthritis Toolkit is a self-study version of the Arthritis Self Management Program, and Better Choices, Better Health Arthritis is an online group program.

  • Regular participation in moderate-intensity, low-impact physical activity improves pain and function without worsening symptoms or severity. The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, the Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program, EnhanceFitness,Fit & Strong!, and Walk with Ease are all examples of programs designed to help people with arthritis increase their physical activity.

  • Prevalence of arthritis increases with weight. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease the disease’s progression. Loosing just 11 pounds can decrease the incidence of new knee osteoarthritis.

  • Although there is no cure for arthritis, early diagnosis and appropriate management is important. Early use of disease-modifying drugs can affect the course of rheumatoid arthritis. Teach patients to describe any pain using specific words such as aching, searing, throbbing and stabbing.

  • Patients can use hot and cold treatments to alleviate joint pain caused by arthritis. Teach patients when to use cold treatments to alleviate severe joint pain and swelling caused by a flare and when to use heat treatments to relax muscles. Instruct patients to use treatments for only 15-20 minutes at a time and use a towel to protect skin from the heat/cold pack.

  • Recommending physical and occupational therapy can help patients learn new techniques for everyday tasks that can minimize the impact on arthritic joints and help manage their pain more effectively.

  • Encourage patients to chart their pain, noting location, severity and frequency. Ask patients to record what makes the pain better or worse in order to help establish the best self-treatment plan.

  • Patients suffering from chronic pain associated with arthritis may experience depression if their quality of function is limited. Some psychologists or counselors are specially trained to work with the emotional side of chronic health problems like arthritis and can help patients manage their stress levels. Encourage these patients to talk about their pain with friends and family.

  • Instruct patients to use their joints wisely when taking on everyday tasks and use shortcuts to help save energy throughout the day. Teaching patients to pace themselves by adjusting their position frequently, planning ahead to avoid unnecessary stress on painful joints, and bend and stretch legs every 30 minutes.

  • In addition to pain management skills, patients may also benefit from learning relaxation and stress coping mechanisms to help alleviate frustrations that may come with arthritic pain. Health care practitioners can help patients by encouraging relaxation and a full night of sleep.

Next Prev
1 / 1
Share this content:

A reported 1 in 5 Americans adults have been diagnosed with arthritis, according to the CDC. The term arthritis describes more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint and other connective tissue. Advise patients with arthritis to aid in their own recovery with these tips.

Read more on the programs mentioned in the slideshow at the links below:

You must be a registered member of Clinical Advisor to post a comment.

Sign Up for Free e-newsletters