Life with arthritis is a tough reality for 24 percent of all U.S. adults, which works out to 58.5 million people. Thankfully, there are practical, everyday steps that you can take to alleviate your symptoms from this incredibly common condition. Here are 13 ways to make your life with arthritis easier, from buying post-op clothing to eating an anti-inflammatory diet:
Use heat therapy regularly.
Heat therapy is one of the most effective treatments for arthritis flare-ups. Thankfully, there are many possible ways to explore heat therapy, from adding a heated mattress pad to your bed to attaching a heated lumbar pillow to your work chair. Remember to always keep the temperature low enough that it won’t burn you, but high enough that it will soothe your symptoms.
Move throughout the day.
Staying in one position may feel great in the moment, but it’s actually really bad for your arthritis. When sitting at a desk or relaxing on the couch, get up every 15-30 minutes to stretch and get your blood flowing. You should also start a regular exercise routine if you don’t already have one. Generally, you should aim for 150 total minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week, but talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.
Consider an anti-inflammatory diet.
Arthritis is caused by inflammation, so it stands to reason that trying an anti-inflammatory diet might be able to improve your symptoms. Since everyone is unique and their inflammation is triggered by different foods, it will take some trial and error to discover what your personal inflammation triggers are, but it really can make a big difference in the long run.
Manage your stress.
Stress makes many health conditions worse, including arthritis. Take steps to reduce your stress by removing as many stressors as possible and delegating tasks when you can. You should also create a self-care routine of activities that help you de-stress, whether that’s taking a hot bath and meditating or gardening in the yard.
Reduce unnecessary activities.
There are lots of little activities that take a toll on your arthritis, even though you might not realize it at the moment. As you think of them, try to eliminate these activities. For instance, get wrinkle-resistant clothes so you can stop ironing, or switch to a shorter haircut to make washing your hair easier. Each of these individual changes is small, but they really add up over time.
Buy duplicate items.
In the spirit of eliminating unnecessary activities, don’t be afraid to buy duplicate items, such as cleaning supplies and toilet paper so you don’t have to lug these items all over the house. If you’re on a tight budget, space out your purchases so that you don’t have to drop a bunch of money at once.
Switch to adaptive clothing.
Getting dressed is one of the most difficult daily tasks for people with arthritis, especially those with arthritis in their hands. Making changes to your wardrobe, such as easy fastening bras for elderly and shoes for swollen feet, can make a big difference in comfort during the day and the ability to get dressed and undressed quickly.
Get automatic kitchen appliances.
All that prep work really does a number on your hands. Thankfully, there are lots of automatic kitchen appliances that can take care of everything from opening jars to chopping vegetables to steaming rice. You can also make changes such as buying pre-chopped vegetables to make it easier for you to keep cooking healthy meals at home.
Automate the rest of your house.
Automating the kitchen gets a lot of attention due to the sheer number of appliances available, but don’t forget that there are plenty of ways to automate the rest of the house! You can get a Roomba, install motion-activated lights, put automatic soap dispensers in the bathrooms and even get a no-touch bidet. Your budget really is the limit when it comes to automating your home!
Outsource your errands.
With so many stores instituting store pick-up and home delivery during the pandemic, you can now switch many of your regular errands over to this instead. While not every store offers this option, you might be surprised how many of your errands that you can switch over. Just be sure to tip your delivery person well!
Get a pair of compression gloves.
Many people who have arthritis in their hands swear by compression gloves, which deliver gentle pressure to help relieve symptoms. They are usually best worn while you sleep, since they need to be left on for about eight hours to get the full benefits. They aren’t miracle workers, but they can especially help reduce swelling that contributes to limited hand movement.
Invest in an ergonomic keyboard and mouse.
If you’re still working in an office, then you know firsthand that standard keyboard and mouse designs are not very ergonomic at all. We recommend investing — or better yet, getting your company to invest — in a more ergonomic setup, such as a contoured mouse and a split keyboard. It will take some getting used to, but it can make a huge difference in your arthritis symptoms.
Try out voice dictation.
If typing is an ongoing struggle, consider switching over to voice dictation. Voice-to-text apps are more accurate than ever and can save your wrists from the strain of typing thousands of words a day. You’ll probably still have to make a few small edits afterwards, but it will be so much less effort than typing the whole thing from scratch.
What are small changes that you have made that alleviate your arthritis symptoms? Let us know in the comments below!