Living with rheumatoid arthritis can mean living with chronic pain,
fatigue, and joint stiffness. Thousands of people have benefited from
developing and following plans to help them manage their symptoms. You and your
doctor can create a medical treatment plan that may include
medicine and other therapies. Early medical treatment can help you avoid
disabling joint changes and chronic pain.
Besides following your
medical treatment plan, there are several steps you can take to maintain your
normal life and activities. This is often called self-management. The first
Rheumatoid arthritis is going to be big
part of your life, perhaps for years—perhaps from now on. If you
become involved in the day-to-day management of your health, you stand a better
chance of maintaining the activities that fill your life. If you take on this
job the same way you would take on a new career position, knowing it will
require daily learning and practicing and that there will be setbacks as well
as successes, you are on your way to managing your rheumatoid arthritis.
An important step in my management plan for rheumatoid
arthritis is learning as much as possible about the disease and what it
Learning about rheumatoid arthritis is an
important step in developing a management plan that can work for you.
Continue to Why?
treatment for rheumatoid arthritis may limit joint damage and help you to avoid
permanent disability. But even with that successful outcome, the disease
may be active for years. During that time, and in the periods of time when the
disease is not active (in remission), you will want to continue with the
activities that make life complete. An effective treatment plan includes
both exercise and creative ways to get projects done as an important part of
your daily routine.
Having rheumatoid arthritis means that I have to stop
doing aerobics, cleaning house, or other active routines.
Having rheumatoid arthritis does not have to
mean that physical activities have to stop. Setting up and following a
self-management plan that keeps you moving every day is the best way to stay in
charge of your health and life.
Continue to How?
Various routines, assistive devices, and flexibility
exercises have been developed to help people with rheumatoid arthritis cope
with pain and stiffness.
Learning basic skills—such as ways to use your
body that protect stiff areas—will help you continue activities. And exploring
the use of splints, canes, and other mechanical aids can help you avoid
Continue to Where?
To learn more about how to set
up a self-management plan for rheumatoid arthritis, contact your doctor.
If you want to learn more about arthritis self-management plans,
the following resources are available:
The Arthritis Foundation provides grants to help find a
cure, prevention methods, and better treatment options for arthritis. It also
provides a large number of community-based services nationwide to make living
with arthritis easier, including self-help courses; water- and land-based
exercise classes; support groups; home study groups; instructional videotapes;
public forums; free educational brochures and booklets; the national, bimonthly
consumer magazine Arthritis Today; and continuing
education courses and publications for health professionals.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal
and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is a governmental institute that serves the public
and health professionals by providing information, locating other information
sources, and participating in a national federal database of health
information. NIAMS supports research into the causes, treatment, and prevention
of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases and supports the training of
scientists to carry out this research.
The NIAMS website provides
health information referrals to the NIAMS Clearinghouse, which has information
packages about diseases.
Return to topic:
June 4, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
& Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
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