Managing Arthritis

Managing Arthritis: Strive for Five

There are a lot of things you can do to manage your arthritis. The day-to-day things you choose to do to manage your condition and stay healthy are “self-management” strategies and activities. CDC’s arthritis program recommends five self-management strategies for managing arthritis and its symptoms. Practice these simple strategies to reduce symptoms and get relief so you can pursue the activities that are important to you.

1. Learn new self-management skills.

Join a self-management education workshop, which can help you learn the skills to manage your arthritis and make good decisions about your health.

How can a self-management education workshop help me?

Learning strategies to better manage your arthritis can help you:

  • Feel more in control of your health.
  • Manage pain and other symptoms.
  • Carry out daily activities, like going to work and spending time with loved ones.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Improve your mood.
  • Communicate better with your health care provider(s) about your care.

Learn about CDC-recommended self-management education programs that improve the quality of life of people with arthritis.

2. Be active.

Physical activity is a simple and effective, non-drug way to relieve pain from arthritis. Being physically active can reduce pain, improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis. Regular physical activity can also reduce your risk of developing other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. It can help you manage these conditions if you already have them.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults be physically active at a moderate intensity for 150 minutes per week.

  • For example, walk, swim, or bike 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week.
  • These 30 minutes can be broken into three separate 10-minute sessions during the day, if needed.

Visit the health.gov website to learn more about the Physical Activity Guidelines for AmericansExternal.

Unsure about what kind of activity is safe?

Get more information about how to exercise safely with arthritis or find a community program near you. Physical activity community programs—like Enhanced®Fitness, Walk With Ease, and others—help adults with arthritis be healthier and reduce arthritis symptoms. These programs are often held in parks, recreation centers, Ys (YMCAs), and other community venues.

Learn about CDC-recommended physical activity programs.

man and woman walking in field with dog

Physical activity is a simple and effective way to relieve pain from arthritis. Learn how you can increase your physical activity safely.

3. Talk to your doctor.

Talk to your doctor if you have joint pain and other arthritis symptoms. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible so you can start treatment and work to minimize symptoms and prevent the disease from getting worse.

The focus of arthritis treatment is to

  • Reduce pain.
  • Minimize joint damage.
  • Improve or maintain function and quality of life.

You can play an active role in controlling your arthritis by attending regular appointments with your health care provider and following your recommended treatment plan. This is especially important if you also have other chronic conditions, like diabetes or heart disease.

Learn more about arthritis and other co-occurring conditions or comorbidities.

4. Manage your weight.

Losing excess weight and staying at a healthy weight is particularly important for people with arthritis. For people who are overweight or obese, losing weight reduces stress on joints, particularly weight bearing joints like the hips and knees. In fact, losing as little as 10 to 12 pounds can improve pain and function for people with arthritis. At any age, low-impact, arthritis-friendly physical activity (like walking) and dietary changes can help you lose weight.

Learn about managing your weight at CDC’s Healthy Weight website.

5. Protect your joints.

Joint injuries can cause or worsen arthritis. Choose activities that are easy on the joints like walking, bicycling, and swimming. These low-impact activities have a low risk of injury and do not twist or put too much stress on the joints. Learn more about how to exercise safely with arthritis.

Sports- or work-related injuries to joints can increase the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis. To reduce the likelihood of developing or worsening osteoarthritis, take steps to minimize or prevent injuries to joints, such as wearing protective equipment and avoiding repetitive motion joint damage.