The outlook for patients with different types of arthritis varies. The best outcomes are generally seen in those individuals who get an early and accurate diagnosis, team up with their doctor(s), follow their treatment plan, and take proper care of themselves.
Prevention of Arthritis
Although there is no sure way to prevent arthritis, the chances of developing certain types of arthritis, the frequency of flare-ups, and the intensity of symptoms may all be reduced by taking certain steps. Although each type of arthritis has its own specific recommendations for managing symptoms, the following steps can be helpful in managing all types of arthritis:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a healthy diet. (In general, include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less sugar, salt, and fat.)
- Exercise regularly, following your doctor's recommendations.
- Get enough sleep and rest.
In addition, take steps to prevent joint injuries by driving safely and following all safety rules when working and exercising.
Exercise and Arthritis
In the past, many people with arthritis felt that exercise was impossible. Fortunately today, we know that exercise is a highly effective way to manage arthritis symptoms.
Always consult a doctor before starting an exercise program. Regular exercise that includes flexibility (stretching), strengthening (resistance), and aerobic (increased heart-rate) components can provide the following benefits:
- Reduce joint pain and stiffness
- Strengthen muscles around joints
- Increase flexibility and endurance
- Increase overall energy level
- Help improve sleep
- Help control weight
- Decrease symptoms of depression
- Increase self-esteem
- Help prevent osteoporosis and heart disease
Exercises that may benefit those with arthritis include walking, gentle water exercises, playing golf, or yoga. If the patient is experiencing a lot of pain, he or she may benefit from a low impact exercise class designed specifically for those with arthritis. Consult your doctor or the nearest chapter of the Arthritis Foundation for information about these types of exercise classes.