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Day in and day out, we speak to people who live with the chronic pain brought by arthritis. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve been dealing with the condition for years, or you’ve just been recently diagnosed—you will always have questions about it.

That said, we’ve created this two-part post that gathered what we hope to be a comprehensive collection of frequently asked questions about what it’s like living with arthritis.

In this first part, we deal with the emotional and mental impact of arthritis. Keep in mind that with diagnosis comes pain, stress, and anxiety brought on by changes to your physical capabilities and possibly even loss of your independence. So it’s important that your concerns about what happens now gets, at the very least, discussed.

Let’s start with….

When should I ask for help?

Whenever you need it. Understandably, it’s important for you to maintain a sense of independence after diagnosis. But it’s also critical that you remember this: it’s OK to ask for help.

Ask a friend or a family member, a doctor or a member of your treatment team. Join a community or forum. The important thing is that you don’t close yourself off to a support system.

Should I worry about how the people around me will be affected by my diagnosis?

Understand that while people close to you may not have the same physical symptoms that you go through, seeing you struggle will affect them. In fact, you may even find that your family and friends have the same emotional reactions as you do.

Confusion, frustration, helplessness, all these are common among patients and caregivers. Talking to them, especially about the physical aspect of dealing with arthritis, helps both you and the people around you. Try not to shut them out.

How do I explain to people how arthritis really affects my life?

Here’s what you can expect—arthritis will affect more than just your joints. There will be physical changes first and foremost, and this will affect how you go about your daily routine.

Remember though—you still know your body best. Don’t push yourself too much or overcompensate. It can get overwhelming, and it’s a disease that will ultimately take an emotional and mental toll on you. Work closely with your physician and tell them how you’re feeling. Not just in terms of physical symptoms.

Can I still live an active lifestyle?

Exercise is possible for arthritis patients. Granted there will be days where it will seem impossible, but on days that you are able to, try to get moving. Don’t over exert yourself, take lots of short breaks, pace yourself and find a good balance between rest and activity.

Be sure to consult your doctor as well. It’s important that you consult your physician before starting on a new exercise regimen.

What can I do to manage pain?

Speak to your doctor. Open up about the level of pain that you experience, how often it comes and how you try to manage it. It’s important to be honest and not just to put on a brave face. Maybe your medication could be changed, or there might be new treatment options you can try. It could be as simple as using assistive devices or use aids and tools. You won’t know until you are able to check with your doctor.

Where can I find support and information?

The idea of dealing with a chronic illness can be overwhelming. And it’s easy to lose sight of solutions or staying positive given the circumstances. In a lot of cases, it helps to speak to individuals who are in the same boat.

Go online to find communities and groups. If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re already aware that Dr. Arthritis is home to a growing community of patients, caregivers, friends, and family whose lives have been touched by arthritis. Listen to their stories first hand, engage, and learn from them by following our page.

Do you have any more questions that you’d like answered? We’d like this to be a constantly evolving list based on all your queries. So just leave a message below so we can continue updating this post for future readers.

For part 2 of this series, we’ll be talking about the more practical questions that you might have on managing arthritis, so be sure to watch out for it in our next post.

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