How can I make it easier to stick with my arthritis treatment?

People don't follow their treatment plans for many reasons. Some people have medication side effects. Others may feel doubtful that any treatment will help. Whatever the problem may be, having patience to stick with your treatment plan is the best thing you can do to keep your arthritis well managed.

Work With Your Doctor

Educating yourself about arthritis is just a small part of your job. Taking an active role also means communicating to your healthcare team how you feel, the things that are bothering you, and the issues you face each day. Use these tips to help you talk with your healthcare partners:

  • Write a list of questions you want to ask.
  • Be prepared to discuss what concerns you the most. Since you may not have time to talk about everything, you may want to rate your concerns on a scale of 1 to 10 - with 10 being the most important. Then talk about the most important items first.
  • Find ways to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible. Just saying you have pain doesn't say anything about where it's located, how it affects your life, or how bad it is at any given time. Use a 1-to-10 rating scale similar to one you used for rating your concerns. Or, think about how you will describe your pain and if any activities make it better or worse. For example, you might say "It feels like two bones are grating when I climb stairs," or "My fingers feel sore when I try to write."
  • Ask questions if there is something you don't understand and ask your doctor to repeat information if you are not certain you heard it correctly. Remember, knowledge equals power.
  • Be prepared to discuss how your symptoms affect or limit your daily activities and which ones are affected. Share your feelings about it.
  • Find out who in your doctor's office you should talk with if you have an emergency or important issue. Ask what the best times are to reach your doctor if you have questions. Most healthcare providers set aside certain hours during the week to make phone calls and speak with patients.
  • Don't be afraid to speak your mind. Speak up if something is bothering you or if you feel any aspect of your treatment isn't working.

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