Tips on coping with arthritis

Wrist pain - arthritis
Wrist pain - arthritis

Get moving. The right exercise programme can increase your range of movement, make you less tired, decrease your arthritis pain and help you feel better overall. Exercise like swimming doesn’t place stress on the joints.

Sit up straight. Good posture reduces stress on vulnerable joints. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed when you stand and that your chair is the right height for your work surface.

Get a grip. Put a thick rubber strip around the handles of all items you use frequently, such as pens, knives, pans and gardening tools. This will relax your grip and decrease stress on your hand joints.

Get rolling. Avoid lifting heavy objects by using a trolley or cart to move things like dustbins, suitcases and grocery bags.

Don’t twist and shout. Use tap openers, jar openers, electric tin openers and a food processor rather than trying to do these chores manually.

Give yourself a break. Accept that there are things which will now take longer to do. Take breaks while doing something like gardening. This will prevent you from overstressing your joints.

Get high. Increase the height of your favourite chair, either by putting blocks underneath it or attaching leg extenders. This will enable you to get up more easily.

The truth is out there. Go to your doctor and find out what your correct diagnosis is. There are many types of arthritis and all require different treatments. Not knowing what you have is much worse than getting the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Chill out. When joints are inflamed, apply something cold which will decrease the pain and swelling by constricting blood vessels and preventing fluids from leaking into the surrounding tissues. A bag of frozen vegetables, such as peas, works very well as it can be molded to fit the shape it needs to be.

Reach out. Join a self-help group. This will not only give you a chance to speak to others who are going through something similar, but also give you an opportunity to find moral support and get helpful hints, tips and referrals.

Lose those extra kilos. Extra weight increases the stress on the joints of your knees and hips. Losing weight will also make you feel better about yourself. Excess weight means more pain – there’s simply no way around it. A healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables will also help your body cope with the medication you may be taking.

Don’t go off the rails. Investing in railings around stairs, the bath and the toilet could be of the best investments you will ever make.

Dump those pumps. Get rid of all your uncomfortable high-heeled shoes. Staggering about on four-inch heels will do you, your feet and your arthritis no good. Invest in comfortable, yet fashionable shoes – and yes, they can be flat.

Water, water everywhere. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. If you’re taking medication, your kidneys will need all the help they can get. Keep a bottle on your desk and in the car.

Get automatic. Get a car with automatic transmission, remote controls for household devices and dimmer or cord light switches.

Don’t shop till you drop. Get a shopping basket on wheels. Get into the habit of pushing it rather than dragging it, as this is very heavy on your finger joints. Investigate online shopping possibilities, especially where groceries are concerned. It’s quick and easy.

Heave-ho. Don’t be shy to ask someone to help you load things into the car or move heavy things. No-one minds receiving a tip, so the help is mutual.

Do the late shift. If you work in an office, ask whether you can start and end an hour later. Many arthritis sufferers have great difficulty with stiff joints in the morning and this shift change might make all the difference.

Get happy. Do things you enjoy that don’t put unnecessary stress on your joints. Read, go to the movies, enjoy time with friends. It is important that you do not let this condition put an end to your social life.

Take a step in the right direction. Get into the habit of finding out in advance how many stairs or steps there are in buildings, cinemas or restaurants that you might have to negotiate. Having to struggle up two flights of stairs to get into a restaurant might spoil the whole evening for you.

Have pills, will travel. Don’t go anywhere without your medication. You never know when something unforeseen could delay you, and there is nothing worse than being in agony far away from your home comforts.

Read more:

What is osteoarthritis?

What is rheumatoid arthritis? 

Treating rheumatoid arthritis

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