Osteoarthritis Pain: Get Your Plan in Place!
If you’re one of the 27 million Americans suffering from osteoarthritis,
you’re all too familiar with the life-changing effects this common
joint disorder can have. Simply put, arthritis hurts. The pain of arthritis
can be detrimental to every area of your life, from leisure activities
and work, to your mood and relationships. A personalized pain management
plan can help you manage the pain of osteoarthritis and minimize its effects
on your life.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends having a personalized pain management
plan that targets every link in the “pain chain,” a term that
describes the many effects of chronic pain on lifestyle—such as
sleep, stress, depression, diet and relationships—and vice versa.
The following steps can help you develop an osteoarthritis pain management
plan that works for you:
Find the right healthcare provider(s). Establishing a relationship with doctors you trust is key to managing
your arthritis and your pain. Keep in mind, you might need to build a
healthcare team of multiple providers with expertise in different areas
Communicate with your healthcare team. Being open and honest about your expectations and your experience, even
if the conversation is sometimes uncomfortable, will enable your doctors
to provide the best care. Consider bringing a list of questions and taking
notes during your appointments. You might even keep a pain diary to share
with your doctors, documenting symptoms, frequency and intensity.
Create a plan in partnership with your healthcare team. An effective plan will probably incorporate more than one of these elements:
- Medications to treat arthritis
- Medications to treat pain
- Natural therapies, like dietary supplements or yoga
Physical therapy, chiropractic care or assistive devices, like braces and splints
- Lifestyle changes, like weight management, diet modifications and exercise
- Surgery, as a last resort
Follow the plan and adjust it as needed. Building a plan for managing your arthritis pain is just the beginning.
As you implement different elements, you and your healthcare team should
adjust your plan to reflect what’s working and what’s not.
Trying multiple different approaches is all part of the process.
If you don’t have a plan in place yet, consider working with your
healthcare team to develop and implement one. While there is no cure for
osteoarthritis, having a plan and partnering with your healthcare team
to implement and continually adjust it can help you manage the pain and
improve your quality of life.