The focus of treatment for arthritis is to control pain, minimize joint damage, and improve or maintain function and quality of life. According to the American College of Rheumatology, the treatment of arthritis might involve the following:
- Nonpharmacologic therapies
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Splints or joint assistive aids
- Patient education and support
- Weight loss
In conjunction with medical treatment, self-management of arthritis symptoms is very important as well.
The Arthritis Self Management Program, and the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, both developed by Dr. Kate Lorig of Stanford University, are effective self-management education programs. These programs help people develop the confidence and skills needed to manage their arthritis on a day to day basis. The Arthritis Toolkit is a self-study version of the Arthritis Self Management Program, and Better Choices, Better Health Arthritis is a virtual group program delivered through the internet.
There are a number of physical activity programs that also support self management. The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, the Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program, EnhanceFitness, Fit & Strong!, and Walk with Ease are all examples of programs designed to help people with arthritis increase their physical activity.
For management of specific types of arthritis, refer to Arthritis Types.