Messages to young people with arthritis

The young people we spoke with had messages they wanted to share with other young people with arthritis. Here is what they had to say:
Diagnosis, treatment and healthcare professionals
• Tell your doctors and nurses as much as possible each time you go to the clinic. The sooner they hear about any new symptoms, the sooner they can begin treatment and monitoring. 
• Ask lots of questions. If you can’t remember them all then write a list. 
• Take someone with you who can help you remember what the doctors and nurses have said. 
• If you are not happy with your treatment then make sure you tell your doctor or nurse. Don’t be afraid to ask for alternative treatments. 
• Always speak to a doctor before you stop taking your medication. 
• Trust your own opinion. You know how you feel better than anyone else.  
• Treatments have improved lots in recent years so stay positive. With the right treatment your symptoms could improve. 
Emotional support
• Having arthritis can be scary and it’s natural to feel upset and low. 
• Always remember that you’re not alone. 
• There will be good days and bad days. Dwelling on negative thoughts and emotions can make you feel worse. Remember what life is like on a good day and tell yourself things will get better soon. 
• Try not to “bury your head in the sand”. Accepting that you have arthritis can make your life easier. 
• Don’t hide your thoughts and feelings from family and friends. Talk to people about your worries. 
• Being around others who are positive is important. 
• If you are being bullied tell somebody about it. 
• Sometimes other young people with arthritis are easier to talk to. You can go on charity internet forums or events run by some charities and hospitals. 
• Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help if you need it.
• Having a good sense of humour and learning to laugh about things can be a big help. 
• Get yourself a hobby that will distract you when times are bad. Never give up hope. 
Looking after yourself
• Get as much information as you can about arthritis. The more you learn about your condition the better you will be at managing it. You can visit websites like Arthritis Research UK or speak to doctors and nurses.
• Look after your body. 
• Eat healthy foods. Exercise as much as you can and do the stretches that physiotherapists recommend.  Go to hydrotherapy if you have the chance. 
• Having arthritis can be very tiring so make sure you get enough rest. 
• Take your medications on time and don’t skip any doses. 
• Wrap up warm when it’s cold. 
• It sometimes helps to pace yourself and plan your day. If you do too much you may regret it the next day. 
Living for the here and now whilst planning for the future
• Having arthritis sometimes leads to new opportunities. You may make new friends, discover fun things to do or even pass your driving test at 16 rather than 17. Some people receive support towards the cost of a car. 
• Take every day as it comes. 
• Never stop dreaming about the future. Aim for what you want out of life but look for new ways of achieving these aims.
• Remember that treatments improve all the time. 

Last reviewed November 2018.

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