Arthritis is a lifelong, chronic disease that is manageable, though not curable. Work with your healthcare team to design a management strategy that targets your personal goals. One way to track how your treatment is working is to use the free app ArthritisPower on your phone. You can quickly and easily quantify aspects of arthritis that affect your quality of life, such as pain and fatigue, but that are less apparent from blood work alone. Do it while waiting for the pasta water to boil or during a commercial break. Over time, you’ll learn a lot about how your symptoms are responding based on the management strategy you and your doctor developed together.
Arthritis is not a defining characteristic. It’s one aspect of your life. Seek support, learn about your illness, and then educate your support network. Your support network is bigger than you may think. It includes your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, and others whom you interact with regularly. You can raise awareness about arthritis by sharing all the things you do even though you’re living with it. You can also share about how and when arthritis may cause you to ask for help. Make your experience honest and relatable to others.
Finding community is a great way to feel ready to make decisions about your arthritis. There are many hospitals and community centers that offer local support groups for people living with arthritis. Your doctor may be able to refer you to such a group. In addition, online groups like CreakyJoints offer ways to engage with the arthritis community through monthly Twitter chats, educational webinars, and opportunities to participate in research.