One of the things common with any arthritis is the usual flare-ups that occur when you least expect it. While these flare-ups can be frustrating on their own, what is more frustrating is when you and your doctor cannot pinpoint the exact reason or trigger.
This is what makes tracking symptoms very important when it comes to arthritis management. From activities to diets and lifestyle, you have to find a way to keep a record so you can go over and pinpoint the triggers for the flare-ups.
Tracking your symptoms will also help your rheumatologist prescribe the most effective drugs and lifestyle changes you need to make to reduce the progression and pain.
What does it mean to track symptoms?
Tracking symptoms means taking notes of your condition and any related circumstances that may or may not be induced by the disease. You could do this manually or using tracking apps.
It also involves keeping track of your everyday habits like exercise, diet, and even your emotional state.
Some things might be unrelated to your condition, but if you are unsure, it is usually best to note them down and discuss them with your doctor.
Benefits of tracking symptoms of arthritis
There are several benefits of tracking the symptoms of arthritis, but the end product is usually better management of the disease for maximum results. Here are some of the benefits in clear terms:
1. It helps you to recognize a flare
One of the common symptoms of arthritis is sudden severe pain referred to as flare-ups. Tracking your symptoms can help you and your doctor to predict when you will experience these flares and prepare you in advance.
2. It identifies triggers
Tracking your symptoms helps identify your triggers. Suppose you get a flare before or after exercising. Or maybe certain food groups cause it. Taking note of your habits and diets and noting when you experience flares will help you identify your triggers.
3. It helps you get effective treatment plans
Recognizing a flare, identifying triggers, and tracking your condition help you and your doctor make better and accurately informed decisions regarding the management of arthritis.
In cases with personal peculiarities, an accurate record can help identify them and find a way around them.
Summarily, tracking symptoms prevents a guesswork treatment.
4. It gives you a sense of control
Constantly tracking your symptoms can give you a sense of control over your illness. It makes you feel involved in managing your disease and can help alleviate the mental strain associated with the illness.
5. It tracks the progression of the disease
Tracking arthritis lets you know how far the disease has progressed. From your breakdown, your doctor can determine how severe the condition is and what appropriate medical options will suit you best.
6. It reveals the potency of medications
Tracking your symptoms, habits, and arthritis, in general, will help you and your doctor know how effective your current treatment option is. Even if you focus more on natural remedies, tracking your symptoms is still crucial.
You can know if certain symptoms persist or if they’ve been resolved by comparing your notes.
How to track arthritis symptoms
1. Ask your doctor
For every decision you make on your condition, it is always important to talk with your doctor first. They might be able to guide you through, give you a better alternative, or express their opinion on your decision.
When it comes to tracking your symptoms, your doctor will be able to give you a list of the things to track and show you the symptoms that are relevant to your conditions, including the peculiar ones.
2. Decide on your approach (apps, notes, spreadsheets, or journals)
There are different approaches you can take when it comes to tracking symptoms of arthritis. Before starting out, you should decide which approach will be best for you, so you don’t misplace some information while changing approaches.
You can write down your symptoms using the notepad app and date them accurately. You can also use spreadsheets, journals, and tracking apps specifically for arthritis.
3. Select your tracking timeline
When will you be inputting the information you’ve gathered? To maintain consistency in tracking symptoms, you should add it to your daily schedule.
4. Be thorough
Take note of all the important things, even those you think might not be important. You have to be thorough with all your symptoms and habits. Be truthful and make sure to keep everything dated.
5. Keep a reminder
Sometimes, you might forget to put things down, and you can put a reminder on your phone or use tracking apps with reminders. Also, make sure to have an accountability partner who can note your everyday habits and remind you to write them down.
Things to take note of when tracking arthritis
These are the things you need to take note of when you are tracking symptoms. Remember that tracking these symptoms isn’t basically about the symptoms but also involves daily habits and diet.
Medication means the drugs, herbs, and other alternative therapy you use collectively in managing arthritis and the ones you use to treat any other condition. Noting your medications helps your doctor determine if they are working and check if you are experiencing any contraindications.
You need to note all the symptoms you experience and what you think might have caused them: general arthritis symptoms, reaction to medications, and even non-related arthritis symptoms.
For example, if you experience a flare-up after trying out a special menu or exercising, you can note it down, and your doctor will verify it.
Observe your daily activities such as work, outings, and any other physical activities that are either strenuous or not. It is important because it can help you track your body limit.
Diet is crucial to arthritis management, so it is vital to keep records of your eating habits regularly. Anti-inflammatory foods are good for people living with arthritis.
6. Mental health
Your emotional/mental health is also important, so you must keep track of activities that might risk your mental health.
7. Pain levels
You should also keep track of the severity of the pain you experience daily and compare it with previous records. Doing this lets you know if a particular medication is effective and if you need to continue with a specific natural remedy.
Tips for managing arthritis better
Try these tips to manage your arthritis better and enjoy life while at it. Each of these tips is crucial to arthritis management.
1. Tracking symptoms
Tracking symptoms of arthritis will help you stay in control and pinpoint the exact treatment option for you. It also gives your doctor an insight into the progression of the disease and the effectiveness of your medications.
2. Find the best doctor
If you have arthritis, you want to treat yourself in an institution specializing in arthritis treatment. At the very least, ensure your primary health care provider is an arthritis specialist and expert.
Learn how to speak up for yourself; to do this, you must equip yourself with the necessary knowledge of the disease. Self-advocacy is just as important as medications because it can help you stay emotionally balanced while living with arthritis.
4. Positive affirmations
Make sure to practice positive affirmations because they can make a difference. Positive affirmations also help you seek the best for yourself regarding treatment options.
5. Be physically active
You need to be physically active when you are living with arthritis. Perhaps, some might have told you that you need all the rest, but you also need to be physically active.
Exercising with arthritis helps strengthen your muscles and alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, including joint pain and numbness.
6. Find a community
A community will always be important to growth processes across all aspects of life. If you want to feel supported, loved, and understood by people experiencing the same thing as yours, you need a community.
I’d say that every person who is fighting arthritis needs to have that bundle of support, which is what we do at Rheum to Rise.
7. Eat healthily
Always use an anti-inflammatory diet if you have arthritis; it has been proven to be very effective in alleviating the symptoms of arthritis.
Tracking symptoms of arthritis will help you know what to keep doing and what to stop doing when it comes to managing the disease. Everything you do needs to be tracked. When it comes to the symptoms you are experiencing, things like your diet, lifestyle, mood, and even daily habits can influence your symptoms.
Make sure to carry your doctor along for any decision you make to manage the disease so you can get added information and tips. If you and your doctor don’t see eye to eye on your health decisions, it might be best to switch doctors.
How have you been tracking the symptoms of arthritis since your diagnosis? What changes did it make to the management of the disease?