Like a lot of people, 58-year-old Sandra was surprised when she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA) 10 years ago. There was no history of OA or any other form of arthritis in her family, and she’s always maintained a healthy diet and lifestyle.
After her diagnosis, she says the Arthritis Society’s website became a place where she could learn more about her new condition.
“It was my home for a month. I read everything,” she says. It became a key source of information to help her understand and manage her disease, and the site also helped her understand the factors that might have put her at higher risk of developing arthritis.
While some people assume getting arthritis is simply an evitable part of aging, Arthritis Society president and CEO Trish Barbato says that’s not true.
“It’s important to understand which factors you have control over so you can lower your risk of developing the disease,” explains Barbato. “At the same time, early diagnosis is important because it can slow the progression of the disease and help you maintain your quality of life.”
She says 1 in 4 Newfoundland and Labrador residents has arthritis, and it can cause a dramatic impact on quality of life, bringing pain, fatigue and restricted mobility.
From tips on eating well and staying active to advice on managing pain, here are some of the ways the Arthritis Society can help — both before or after a possible arthritis diagnosis ...
RISK ASSESSMENT TOOL: There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, characterized by inflammation and pain in the joints. Certain factors may increase your risk of developing arthritis. This simple tool will help you understand if you are at increased risk of developing the disease.
SYMPTOM CHECKER: Not sure if you might have arthritis? This simple quiz will help you communicate more effectively with your healthcare provider about any symptoms you’re experiencing.
PATIENT JOURNEYS: Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with arthritis or you’re already undergoing treatment, patient journeys will help you learn more about what to expect and how to effectively manage your disease each step of the way. This site includes unique patient journey resources for people diagnosed with OA, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
TIPS FOR MANAGING CHRONIC PAIN: Pain is the number one concern for the majority of people with arthritis. This comprehensive guide provides important strategies, resources and tips to help you minimize your pain and find relief.
A GUIDE TO STAYING ACTIVE: When it hurts to move, it seems natural not to move. But moderate exercise actually improves joint function and flexibility, and this leads to less pain. This guide will make moving easier.
ADVICE ON EATING WELL: If you have arthritis, you likely don’t need a specifically tailored “arthritis diet” because even small changes you make to embrace healthy eating habits can make an improvement in your health. Dig in to eating well here.
WAYS TO OVERCOME FATIGUE: We can all feel tired after a long day, but when you have arthritis, your tiredness may be quite different in quality and intensity. The guide will help you manage fatigue so you can improve your quality of life and do more of the things you want to do.
INFORMATION ON ASSISTIVE DEVICES: It’s OK to need a little help around the house. This site will help you learn about the different types of assistive devices that can help you perform tasks more easily in your everyday life while minimizing joint pain and strain.
A MEDICATION REFERENCE GUIDE: There are two types of medications to treat arthritis: those that control symptoms and those that control the disease itself. This educational guide can answer some of your questions about available medications and help you ask your healthcare team specific questions about your treatment plan.
DRUG-FREE PAIN MANAGEMENT TOOL: Pain is complex, and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Additionally, chronic or persistent pain may require a combination of strategies for maximum symptom relief. This tool can help you learn about different drug-free pain management options for arthritis and what the research says about their effectiveness.
If you have arthritis, it’s important to seek information to help you better understand your condition, and support to help you cope. Sandra has learned that exercise, and yoga in particular, are beneficial to her.
“Even on days when I do feel the pain, I get on my mat and do what I can and push through. It helps.”
The Arthritis Society’s vision is to live in a world where people are free from the devastating effects of arthritis. Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with arthritis or you’re wondering if you may have arthritis, start your learning journey at arthritis.ca.