16 Ways to Live Better with Osteoarthritis

Life hacks for coping with osteoarthritis

A senior couple out for a walk.
A senior couple out for a walk.. Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

It can be difficult to cope with osteoarthritis symptoms that interfere with usual activities of daily living. The best way to cope with physical limitations is to know you are doing everything you can do in terms of pain relief and improving physical function. There are actions which will improve your ability to cope. Read the list and ask yourself if you are doing the right things:

  • Know your diagnosis. Recognize the early signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. Consult with a doctor about the observed symptoms and get an accurate diagnosis.
  • Follow your treatment plan. Once you have been diagnosed and have decided on treatment options, be compliant with your treatment plan.
  • Explore treatment options. Assess and periodically re-assess your treatment options with your doctor. Have you considered all medication options? Have you tried injections, non-drug treatments, alternative treatments, and joint surgery?
  • Protect your joints and avoid excess stress and strain on your joints. Consider wearing a support or orthotic. Use assistive devices and adaptive equipment when needed.
  • Keep moving. Don't fall into the sedentary trap. Regular exercise and physical activity will enhance your ability to cope with pain and limitations. Daily range of motion exercises and strengthening exercises should be included in your routine.
  • Eat well and take a daily multivitamin for better health overall. Including antioxidants in your diet has been touted as being beneficial for osteoarthritis patients. Maintaining a healthy weight will lessen stress on your joints.
  • Enjoy leisure activities. Don't let pain rule and define your life. Carve out time for leisure activities you enjoy, whether it is listening to music, reading, playing with your pet, or watching a movie.
  • Don't forget to pamper yourself: get your hair cut, a pedicure, a massage, a spa treatment. Make the effort to feel better.
  • Get away and change your surroundings, even if it's just for a day trip. A change of scenery is likely to spark a good mood and relieve stress.
  • Help family and friends understand what is most difficult for you. Ask for help when you need it. You won't be able to do everything you did before osteoarthritis but you should do what you can for as long as you can.
  • Make adjustments to your work if necessary. Request a different work schedule or a light-duty position.
  • Keep a diary or journal. It can help you remember things to tell the doctor and it can allow you an outlet for venting frustration.
  • Get support wherever you can find it. There are online support groups and local support groups. Surround yourself with people who understand first-hand what you are going through. You may discover new life hacks for coping with osteoarthritis through them.
  • Don't forget to balance rest and activity. While it's very important to stay active, it's equally important to get enough rest. Balance is what should be emphasized.
  • Improve your sleep. Getting better sleep will reduce your fatigue, while poor sleep and worsen the pain. Make your bedroom a good sleep environment and practice good habits that will help you get a full night's rest.
  • Stay informed. Be knowledgeable about osteoarthritis. Keep current on osteoarthritis news. Suffice to say, if you are well-informed and embracing life through positive actions, you are coping well.

How to Care for Yourself. Arthritis Foundation. 8/12/2007.

Arthritis Self Management: What You Need to Know, Arthritis Foundation, accessed 12/30/15.

The Impact of Osteoarthritis of the Knee. AAOS. 4/2003.

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