With the right support, you can lead a healthy, active life with osteoarthritis. The condition does not necessarily get worse.
A good diet and regular exercise will help keep muscles strong and control your weight, which is good for osteoarthritis and also has other health benefits.
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It's important to take your medicine as prescribed, even if you start to feel better.
Continuous medicine can sometimes help prevent pain, although if your medicines have been prescribed "as required", you may not need to take them in between painful episodes.
If you have any questions or concerns about the medicine you're taking or any side effects you think you may be experiencing, talk to your healthcare team.
It may also be useful to read the information leaflet that comes with the medicine, which will tell you about possible interactions with other drugs or supplements.
Check with your healthcare team if you plan to take any over-the-counter remedies, such as painkillers, or any nutritional supplements, as these can sometimes interfere with your medicine.
Because osteoarthritis is a long-term condition, you'll be in regular contact with your healthcare team.
Having a good relationship with the team means you can easily discuss your symptoms or concerns.
The more the team know, the more they can help you.
You may also be advised to get a pneumoccocal vaccination.
This is a one-off injection that protects against a serious chest infection called pneumococcal pneumonia.
Many people find it helpful to talk to other people who are in a similar position to them.
You may find support from a group or by talking individually to someone who has osteoarthritis.
Patient organisations have local groups where you can meet other people with the same condition.
The Versus Arthritis helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm. Call free on 0800 5200 520.
You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Versus Arthritis also have an online forum, where you can communicate with other people who have osteoarthritis.
If you have severe osteoarthritis and are still working, your symptoms may interfere with your working life and may affect your ability to do your job.
If you have to stop work or work part time because of your arthritis, you may find it hard to cope financially.
You may be entitled to 1 or more of the following types of financial support:
- if you have a job but cannot work because of your illness, you're entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from your employer
- if you do not have a job and cannot work because of your illness, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance
- if you're aged 64 or under and need help with personal care or have walking difficulties, you may be eligible for the Personal Independence Payment
- if you're aged 65 or over, you may be able to get Attendance Allowance
- if you're caring for someone with rheumatoid arthritis, you may be entitled to Carer's Allowance
You may be eligible for other benefits if you have children living at home or a low household income.