Living with arthritis isn't easy, particularly for a busy caregiver. Whether you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or another form of the condition, even the simplest of everyday tasks can be difficult and extremely painful to complete.
Thankfully, there are ways you can make your life more manageable if you suffer from arthritis, aside from any prescribed medications. To cope best, you may want to aim for a holistic approach to your health and avoid stress, as this causes arthritis to worsen due to increased tension (and inflammation) in the body.
Here are five ways people with arthritis can make their lives easier.
1. Daily Living Aids
The range of arthritic aids now available is vast. These daily living aids are designed specifically to assist people with arthritis to continue to do the tasks they are used to doing, without putting added pressure on joints. Arthritic living aids can be incorporated into all aspects of your daily routine. For instance, kitchen aids include adapted knives, eating utensils and a special tool to help you open jars. Other aids for the office, bathroom, car and garden can also be found.
Mild to moderate exercise is now considered the best non-drug treatment for both pain reduction and improved movement in people with arthritis. Types of exercise you could include in your routine are:
- Range of motion/flexibility exercises, such as gentle stretching, to take joints through their full span;
- Aerobic/endurance exercise, such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming, to increase stamina and strengthen the heart and lungs;
- Strengthening exercises, to help maintain and improve muscle strength, ultimately better supporting joints affected by arthritis; and
- Aquatic exercise, to help relieve the pressure of your weight on affected joints and assist with pain.
Many people with arthritis report finding some relief via a variety of methods designed to promoted relaxation. These include having massages, putting aside regular time slots in which to rest and practice relaxation and/or breathing techniques, taking a course of acupuncture, trying Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy or hypnosis.
4. Nutrition and Diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for everyone, but if you have arthritis, you may want to take extra care and eat appropriately from each of the five main food groups. This will ensure you have all the nutrients your body needs, as well as help you to maintain a healthy weight. Foods containing Omega-3 may help relieve inflammation, particularly in rheumatoid arthritis. If you are overweight, you will definitely benefit from losing a few pounds, as being too heavy increases the strain and stress on your joints.
5. Joint Care
With arthritis, it's especially important to be self-aware. Conserve energy by completing everyday tasks in ways that reduce stress. Listen for signals indicating your body needs rest and pace yourself. If you complete an activity and find yourself in pain for two hours, do a little less of that activity next time. Be aware of how you position your body. Avoid positions that increase stiffness or involve using a tight grip. Utilize your largest and strongest joints wherever possible (i.e., carry a bag with a strap across the shoulder and back, rather than carrying a bag).
Patient Handling, based in Australia, specializes in rehabilitation and daily care aids for both individuals and medical facilities.