Arthritis is a musculoskeletal condition that causes the joints to become inflamed, sore and stiff. While symptoms vary from person to person and depend on the type of condition you have, it can be can be extremely debilitating and make everyday movements a challenge. Any joints, including the hands, knees, hips and spine, can be affected and sufferers may experience joint tenderness, stiffness and swelling, limited movement and weak muscles.
Although there is no cure for arthritis, the good news is that there are plenty of ways you can reduce your symptoms and slow down the condition’s progress. Here are five self-help tips that make living with arthritis easier.
1. Try pain management techniques
The ongoing pain associated with arthritis can not only make physical activities more difficult, but it can also have a negative impact on your mental wellbeing and lead to low mood, stress and in some cases even depression. Luckily, there are simple pain management techniques you can practice to keep these symptoms under control. For example, over the counter painkillers can be taken to provide quick and effective relief from discomfort. Complementary treatments, such as massage therapy, have also been proven to ease sore and stiff joints. Our adjustable chairs and beds feature in-built massage technology that can help to soothe aches and pains. Practicing relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises and meditation, can also alleviate persistent pain and minimise stress. If you are suffering from a flare up, applying hot or cold pads to the affected joints may bring some relief. To find out which types of pain management techniques are best for your condition, you can seek advice from your GP.
2. Stay active
Regular exercise is extremely important for arthritis sufferers. Not only can it help to improve your range of movement and joint mobility and increase muscle strength, but it also releases endorphins that can boost your mood. While you might be hesitant about doing exercise for the fear of inflicting further pain on yourself, as long as you do the right type of activity for your condition, it is unlikely to cause you any harm. As a general rule of thumb, doing exercise little and often is considered best and you should try to keep all of your joints moving as much as possible throughout the day to prevent them from becoming stiff. Gentle, low impact activities such as walking, swimming and cycling can be highly effective at easing aches and pains and maintaining movement in your joints. Stretching and strengthening exercises like pilates and yoga can also help to strengthen the muscles that support the joints and improve flexibility. Even simple everyday tasks, including walking the dog or doing some gardening, can work wonders for your joints and overall health. However, take care not to do anything that causes long lasting pain or makes your joints swollen.
3. Get enough rest
While physical activity is an essential part of promoting joint health, rest is also needed. Especially if you suffer from inflammatory arthritis, overdoing physical activity can sometimes be counterproductive and cause a flare up, so take care to pace yourself. If your joints become warm and inflamed, a few days of rest can help to reduce swelling and improve your comfort. You should also try to avoid doing too much activity when you are having a good day, as this can cause problems further down the line and make the condition worse. Healthcare experts recommend that people with arthritis take a break between periods of activity to reduce the risk of further pain and injury. However, bear in mind that resting too much and spending long periods of time sitting down can cause joints to stiffen up, decrease your mobility and aggravate the condition. With that in mind, the best solution is to try to strike a balance between rest and exercise.
4. Eat healthily
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for all of us, but especially for those with arthritis. Carrying excess weight can put added pressure on your joints and make moving around more difficult, leading to increased pain and mobility problems. While there is no hard and fast rule about what sort of diet is best for treating arthritis, try to avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt as they can bring about weight gain and high blood pressure. There is also research to suggest that foods with omega-3 fatty acids can help to relieve symptoms of inflammatory arthritis, while vitamin D and calcium can help to promote healthy bones. If you are unsure about what foods you should eat to help you cope better with your condition, speak to a nutritionist or your doctor for dietary advice.
5. Make changes to your home
When your joints are sore and stiff, everyday chores and routines can be a struggle. However, there are practical changes you make to your home to ensure that day to day life is easier and more comfortable. For example, adding a handrail or chairlift to the stairs, keeping frequently used objects within easy reach, fitting levers to taps to make them easier to turn and using long handled utensils can help you maintain your independence around the house. For long-term relief, you may want to consider investing in specialist furniture that is designed to make everyday activities like sitting and sleeping less painful. For example, riser recliner chairs are specially designed to help you move from a sitting down position to a standing posture with ease, reducing pressure on the knees and hips while giving you greater freedom of movement. If you are struggling to sleep at night, you may also benefit from using an adjustable bed. Adjustable beds can be positioned to elevate the hips, knees and head to ease strain on vulnerable areas and help you find your optimal sleeping position so you can enjoy a comfortable night’s rest.
By making a few simple lifestyle changes and taking advantage of the various support aids available, you should be able to reduce the painful symptoms associated with arthritis and live a more independent and healthy lifestyle.