Living with arthritis can be painful, disruptive and discouraging, but it doesn’t have to be! Pain and stiffness can make the simplest of daily tasks difficult. Putting on shoes or washing the dishes can become painful and tedious. For these reasons, it is important to take good care of yourself to relieve pain, improve function and cope with the changing capabilities of your body over time. Below are a few strategies and tools to consider when managing your arthritis on a day-to-day basis.
Keep Your Body Moving
Contrary to previous ideas, maintaining physical activity is key in managing the progression of arthritis and managing chronic pain associated with arthritis. Although this may seem counterintuitive, maintaining an exercise program retains muscular strength and available joint ranges of motion which may, therefore, prevent stiffness. Avoid staying in one position for extended periods. If you work at a desk, for example, take regular breaks to get up and move, even if only for a quick walk to the water cooler and back.
Take Advantage of Adaptive Aids and Other Tools
There are a variety of devices on the market designed to make everyday tasks more manageable for people living with arthritis.
- A long-handled shoe horn makes bending unnecessary to put shoes on.
- Wide handled utensils make dining more comfortable.
- Jar openers make cooking easier.
- Other tools such as adjustable chairs and grab bars make other day-to-day tasks easier, reducing pain and fatigue.
Simplify Your Home and Work-Life
Simplify life as much as possible to avoid unnecessary activities. Consider simple solutions such as keeping cleaning supplies in several locations, buying wrinkle-free shirts to reduce ironing or organizing your home to keep often-used items within reach. Ask your family and friends for help. While independence is a priority for many, don’t let it be at the expense of your joints.
Strategize with your employer on ways to incorporate accommodations at work to maintain or improve your productivity, while preserving your joint health. Equipment changes, flexible work hours and task adaptations are some examples of accommodations that can be made at work to manage your arthritis while maintaining your productivity.
Evaluate Your Needs and Develop an A Plan Yourself
Arthritis affects everyone differently, and your needs while living with arthritis may also change over time. Your needs today may be very different from your needs in a few years. Evaluate your needs and abilities periodically, and utilize some of the strategies listed here to make your day-to-day activities easier. For more ideas about living with arthritis, see this Arthritis Society of Canada resource about day-to-day living with arthritis.
For information regarding foot pain associated with arthritis, contact the team of certified Pedorthists at SoleScience.