When you get diagnosed with any illness, the first reaction is of disbelief and denial. It can be even more severe if your disease is chronic or long term. You might get discouraged and lose all hope for the future. This is especially true for patients of arthritis, which is a common disease nowadays. People mistakenly link it solely to old age, and sure, the rate of arthritis is higher is older people but people in their twenties and thirties can experience it as well. So, here are some tips for people living with chronic arthritis, to help them both physically and mentally.
Don’t Underestimate the Psychological Damage
When people get diagnosed, the doctors, friends and family only pay attention to the physical condition of their patient. They forget one thing that is equally important and requires first aid as well. That is, their emotional well-being. The psychological trauma that accompanies having a disease that can never be fully cured should not be underestimated.
You have to realize the fact that your illness is going to stay with you for the rest of your life. But don’t force yourself to accept it. Take one thing at a time and cope with every emotion without denying it. Consulting with a psychologist will help.
Never Stop Moving your Body
You must be hurting all the time. With your joints in pain and stiff muscles, moving is probably the last thing you want to do. However, you need to keep moving. Staying in one posture gives time to your joints and muscles to become stiff due to inactivity. Do light exercises whenever you have time. Pilates and yoga are the best because they allow you to use various muscles without moving too much. If you work a desk job, make sure to get up from your seat and stretch every twenty minutes.
Since muscles put pressure on your joints, it makes sense to shed some weight if you have arthritis. However, extreme dieting is not the way to go. Choose healthy options for losing weight even if they don’t show result instantly. Consult with your doctor about how much weight you should lose and what’s the best way to do it.
Don’t Rely on Medicines – Try Other Pain-Relieving Methods
When you’re in pain, reaching for the painkillers is probably the first thing you do. But since your arthritis is chronic, relying too much on medicines have the opposite result. Your body becomes immune to painkillers or worse, the side effects of medicines might lead to more severe health problems.
As seen with Xeljanz lawsuits case, where the manufacturer of arthritis medicine Xeljanz is under fire to failing to notify the public regarding serious side-effects of the drug, which includes pulmonary embolisms, liver damage and even cancer. That’s why try to keep your medicine dose to a minimum and give other treatments for pain relief a try. Acupuncture and massages are worth giving a shot.
Avoid Food that Makes Arthritis Worse
A healthy balanced diet should be norm and not restricted to patients only. But it is true that arthritis patients need more consideration when it comes to food. There are certain foods that aggravate arthritis, make sure to avoid them. These include, red meat and fried food as they are rich in omega-6 fatty acid, the main contributor to inflammation. You can, however, eat them in small quantity and occasionally.
Moreover, stay away from carbonated drinks as they contain a contain a lot of sugar and increase the acidity of blood. Herbal teas and diluted fresh fruit juices are okay though.
You might feel like you’re all alone and no one understands your pain. Such mindset is really damaging when you have chronic diseases. Open yourself up to friends and family and try to get support from them. I say, “support” and not “help” because keeping your independence is really significant for people living with arthritis. They might feel like a burden when they start depending on other people for meager tasks such as climbing the stairs, commutation, etc.
Learn about your disease and educate your support group as well. Making home modifications to suit your needs is also a good idea as it allows you to stay independent.
Chronic illness Doesn’t Mean the End of Your Life
Patients with chronic diseases might think that they can never enjoy life anymore. They’ll always be dependent on other people and give up things they love, such as running, swimming, skiing, etc. However, this is wrong. You can have arthritis and still be able to participate in activities you love. For that, make sure to keep your illness in check and take measures to avoid complications.