Dealing with your arthritis diagnosis

You have received a diagnosis of arthritis, but now what? Arthritis affects 1 in 7 people in Australia, so you are not alone! Finding out you have arthritis can be difficult, overwhelming and evoke a range of emotions. The idea of accepting your chronic illness at this point in time, may seem far away but it is a process which takes time and we are here to help.

This process will involve understanding your condition, acknowledging the chronicity of pain and resulting losses, and finally, adjusting to your new way of life. Although it can be challenging, there are many self-management strategies you can adopt, communities you can connect with and plenty of support available with our services and programs.

No matter what form of arthritis you have been diagnosed with, it can impact on your physical, social and psychological wellbeing but you can still have an incredible, active and fulfilling life ahead.

Understanding arthritis

Learning about the nature of your condition and how it affects you is key to helping you better manage your Arthritis. See our information sheets on the different types of arthritis where you can learn more about your condition:

As it is a painful disease of the joints, it can reduce mobility, reduce physical activity levels, impact negatively on your mood and exacerbate stress. Although it is more prevalent in older people, it does not discriminate and can affect people of all ages. Symptoms can vary, but hallmark features include joint pain, stiffness, swelling and reduced motion. Severity can vary on an individual basis from mild to severe, it can also fluctuate from time to time, particularly with climate. This pain can make it hard to function at times, but make sure you talk to others about this especially your family, friends, partner, peers and colleagues. Feel free to express your emotions and help others understand your diagnosis.

If questions arise regarding your symptoms, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or specialist.

Identity & Acceptance

You are realizing your body function’s differently now, and existing in a pain-free state is not quite reality anymore. Your identity and self-esteem may be challenged in this time of processing your diagnosis, but you are NOT your diagnosis and this should not define you. Be kind to yourself, it’s normal to have down days but you still have many great days ahead.

To help you through this experience, there are many things you can do to maintain your quality of life like:

  1. Exploring new hobbies or exercises that bring you joy.
  2. Find a support group and connect with people who understand exactly what you are experiencing like Arthritis Assist.
  3. Most importantly, take care of yourself by exercising regularly, eating well, and try to get enough sleep.

There are also many effective self-management practices, you can explore to adopt some positive coping mechanisms, some examples include:

  • Meditation/Mindfulness
  • Journaling
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Pacing

For further psychological support and counselling, you might want to consider visiting beyondblue or speaking with a psychologist to explore some other techniques for your pain and mental health.

There are also many different medications you can take to control the pain of arthritis. You may want to discuss your options with a doctor or pharmacist to determine the best medication for your arthritis.

To learn more about your condition and treatment options, you can ask your doctor or health professional, but you can also see more information on our website and speak to our health team about your condition.

Mary Zagotsis
Health Educator
Arthritis NSW

April 2023