Making A Plan For The New Year To Help Control Your Arthritis Symptoms. II

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Have you gained or lost weight over the last year? Most people who have arthritis experience weight gain over time. The most common reasons for this are they become more sedentary, but their eating habits remain the same. This equation of the same amount of calories being ingested, combined with less calories being burned equals weight gain. When you have arthritis it is always a good idea to eat a well balanced diet, unless you have identified certain foods that make your symptoms worse. Many of the inflammatory forms of arthritis are thought to have an autoimmune connection; so trying to maintain good nutritional support is vital to a person’s general health. Keeping fat intake to a minimum is one way of keeping control of caloric intake. The other side of the weight gain equation is activity. Even if you have arthritis it is important to stay active. Building in time for regular activity in your schedule will not only help, decrease the symptoms of arthritis but, will also improve your function, balance and coordination. Staying active will also assure you that calories are being used up so they won’t store and show up as weight gain. Whether you plan a full workout at the local gym, join an exercise class in the community or just take a walk, staying active is one of the key elements of a wellness program. This is certainly true of people who have any form of arthritis.

Weight loss can also be concerning. This may indicate that your condition is worsening or the medication you are taking is adversely affecting your metabolism. Some of the medication taken for the treatment of inflammatory forms of arthritis can cause stomach nausea and other conditions that may lead to a suppressed appetite. Weight loss may be a side effect of this problem. Also a complication with some forms of treatment may lead to weight loss; muscle wasting and bone loss. Therefore everyone should try to maintain a well balanced diet and get plenty of weight bearing activity in there daily routine.

Sleep deprivation is also another health concern for people who have arthritis. The cause of sleep disturbance can vary from pain, stiffness, medication complications, muscle spasms, and chemical imbalances in the brain. Whatever the cause, it is important to identify it and take some positive steps toward reducing the effects. The pain and stiffness can be caused by the disease process and can be somewhat elevated by activity, medication, heat, cold, massage or a combination of several of these treatment options. If your medication is the problem, then reviewing your medication with your doctor may be of help. Sometimes eating something to coat the stomach before taking the night dose of medication can reduce the ill effects. Whatever the cause, getting a good night sleep is very important for the body to repair itself and to have the stamina to meet the demands of a daily routine.

Another area that should be evaluated is function. Has function been maintained throughout the year? If function has been lost, then you need to find out why and what can be done to regain that function or compensate for it. If the function is something like going up and down stairs or getting in and out of a car, those can usually be improved with some proper strength training and the use of assistive devices. If loss of function is due to a joint deformity then corrective splints or supportive devices can be helpful. Maintaining function is vital to remaining independent. Staying functional is something that people with arthritis have to work on continually. Continuing with therapy exercises when the formal therapy is over or joining an exercise class structured for people with arthritis can help maintain and often times ever improve someone function. But to remain as functional as possible involves daily work.

How has social activity changed? Do you continue to keep an active social life or have you started to give up some old familiar activities? It is important to try and sustain an active social life. Being socially active keeps a person from centering all their thoughts and actions on their disease. Socializing is a form of distraction. It can also be a source of pleasure from doing activities that make people happy. It gets people out of the house and involved in society instead of focusing on them selves. This creates a healthy attitude toward every day life.

What are the expectations for the coming year? It might be a good time to sit down and decide what things or tasks, or projects are important to accomplish in the next 12 months. That may include moving to a new residence where every day functioning would be easier, improving on your eating habits to help maintain a good body weight, planning a vacation now instead of waiting for a couple years down the road, making some home improvements that will enable you to remain more functional, or taking on a new exercise program that will prepare you for some activity you been wanting to do, like hiking or rock climbing or skiing. This is a great time to set a timetable up and figure out what you need to do on a weekly or daily basis to reach your goals. Maybe you will need to readjust your schedule or rearrange your daily routine to meet the demands of your new goals. Once you have your schedule organized than try to stick to it as closely as possible. Then when January of 2010 rolls around you will be able to look back and feel great about all that you have accomplished during the year. And if you have been conscientious about sticking with your plan, I am sure you will be feeling better and functioning better with your arthritis.

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