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12 Steps to Coping with Arthritis - 2012

How to be better than before osteoarthritis.

SpryLiving.com—March 21, 2012

Often the long-term result of an untreated injury, arthritis affects not only the joints but the tissues that surround them, along with other connective tissue. It’s certainly not uncommon. According to the Arthritis Foundation, it is the leading cause of disability in the United States, striking 50 million Americans, or one in every five adults. And it is not just a disease of old age; two-thirds of the people with arthritis are under age 65.

Although Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease, is by far more serious, osteoarthritis (OA) can be progressive and degenerative, characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage associated with risk factors such as obesity, a history of joint injuries and unusual physical stress. It can also come from everyday wear and tear of the knees, hips, hands, shoulders and spine, which is, alas, associated with getting older. The joints, without the healthy cushion of shock-absorbing cartilage that covers the bones, begin to grind against one another, causing pain, swelling and stiffness.

Scientists are studying factors that may cause arthritis such as genetics, autoimmune disorders, lifestyle and environment. While there is no cure to date, there are many things you can do about it—especially if you have osteoarthritis. Medications aside, such lifestyle modifications as proper exercise, sound nutrition and a healthy frame of mind go a long way toward relieving the pain, slowing down the progression, and even delaying the onset. That said, here is one of 12 suggestions to help you go about your daily activities with ease, feeling even Better Than Before.

Emotional Health
Shift your focus. Certainly a chronic condition can compromise your everyday life, and it’s not unusual to long for the "old you." But focusing on your pain can cause it to become even more unbearable. “Feelings of sadness and anger may precede recognition of the kinds of burdens your arthritis has placed on your work function and/or outlook on life,” says Roberta Horton, director of the department of social work programs at Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC. “Mood changes in the context of new life challenges are very normal and understandable." She suggests trying to find ways to communicate your concerns with others who can offer support and help with problem solving so that you feel less alone. If these feelings persist, you may want to consider professional counseling.

For more suggestions, read the full story at SpryLiving.com.



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