Living with osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease in both the US and the world. Around one in four people over 45 years of age would show signs of the disease if they were to undergo a clinical exam. Today, there are a large number of people suffering from pain and stiffness in the joints, which are the most common symptoms. If you experience these symptoms, life can become difficult. Therefore, we want to give you our best tips for living with osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis affects everyday life

Osteoarthritis is a disease that attacks the joints and often the knees and hips. The disease can result in the affected person requiring, for example, knee protection for osteoarthritis or other support in order to walk and move without major discomfort. Living with the disease can be very difficult. The pain and discomfort can eventually result in discouragement and sometimes depression. It can affect the work, free time and social life of the affected person. Many people who live with long-term joint pain may be forced to go on long-term disability.

What is osteoarthritis?

More specifically, the disease involves the cartilage in the joints breaking down at a faster rate than it is built up. Most often, the hips, knees, back, fingers and toes are affected. Common symptoms include both stiffness and pain. In most cases, the best pain relief for osteoarthritis involves exercising and an active lifestyle. This is most often recommended by physicians and physiotherapists.

People who are already physically active, however may find themselves at risk for osteoarthritis. Joint injuries associated with sports can be a contributing factor to the disease developing later in life. There are also other factors that can contribute to being affected. Increasing age is not a risk factor in itself, but the older a person is, the longer their joints have been exposed to strain. Negative strain on the joint is another risk factor, for example, in the form of weak muscles, previous joint injuries and heavy manual labor. By contacting a physician and getting a diagnosis, it is easier to address osteoarthritis and its symptoms at an earlier stage. Both physical therapy and everyday exercise helps to strengthen the muscles.

Learn more about osteoarthritis

So-called arthritis patient education programs are held in many places throughout Sweden. This is where people who have the disease can meet other affected persons, talk about their difficulties and get tips and advice from other people. If you have osteoarthritis, you can also get help putting together an individual exercise program. Another alternative is the online treatment plan, Joint Academy. This is an app that can be downloaded. Using your mobile phone, each patient receives physical activities to perform at home.

There is also a lot of information available on the internet. However, it is important to only use trustworthy sources (such as 1177, or Swedish Association against Rheumatism). The more well read you are, the more you know about how to handle the disease. This is also an excellent opportunity to examine yourself and change bad habits, for example, stop smoking or start eating more fruits and vegetables.

How to make living with osteoarthritis easier

When a person has been affected by osteoarthritis and the joints become painful, it can seem difficult to become active and perform exercises – but this is completely necessary. Using different training exercises, you can strengthen the muscles that surround the affected joint and thereby allow these muscles to absorb the load that previously was placed on the joint. Training does not need to be difficult or time-consuming. Just a few simple exercises that only take a few minutes is sufficient.

Read more: how osteoarthritis, joint pain and fatigue affects mental health.