Trying to live with arthritis can be no easy task. The diagnosis is in and now you just need the right help and advice on leading as full a lifestyle as possible.
The internet is myriad of information about how to adapt to life with a long-term health condition, but we’ve produced this handy guide to get you started.
- Keep moving
Keeping active is extremely important for people who have musculoskeletal conditions in order to keep your joints mobile. But that doesn’t mean you have to join a gym (unless you can and want to).
Simple things such as walking around the house can help. Putting things out of reach from where you normally sit will force you to get up to get them, but don’t put them too out of reach that you can’t get them without help.
Do check with your doctor before you undertake any form of exercise, as not all types will be suitable for everyone.
- Eat a balanced diet
Maintaining or losing weight, if you need to, will mean you don’t put any extra weight on your joints and evidence suggests that a balanced diet can reduce inflammation.
Arthritis Research UK advises that if you have the condition you should try to eat a varied diet to get all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients you need. They suggest one including more fish (especially fish with omega-3 fatty acids in), pulses, nuts, olive oil, fruit and vegetables.
The charity also points out that a good diet can protect against some possible side-effects of medication you might be taking and against heart disease, which can sometimes be a complication of some types of arthritis.
- Take care of your joints
There are lots of little ways you can take care of your joints to limit further damage and reduce stress. Pace yourself throughout the day and plan ahead – are there any activities you can do in the afternoon when your body might not be so sore?
Do you have stronger joints you can use to carry out simple tasks? For example, use your shoulder to open a door rather than your hand. Try spreading the weight of items you’re carrying over multiple joints, for example using both hands to carry shopping. And if you do the housework, then spread it out over a few days.
- Consider home alterations
There may come a time when everyday tasks get too much to deal with and that’s when you could have your home adapted.
Have handrails fitted to the walls, especially in the bathroom if you need something to grip onto to get around. You can also have lever taps fitted instead of ones you have to turn.
Start using some handy gadgets – you can get long-handled sponges for washing and cleaning, sticks with rubber stoppers for switching the television on and automatic can and jar openers.
- Ask for help
There’s no need to suffer in silence. Social Services departments have special occupational therapists who might be able to help assess your home according to your needs.
Or have you tried your local voluntary organisation? The British Red Cross runs an equipment hire service for wheelchairs and Age UK runs shopping and housework services in some areas. Try your local library or Citizen’s Advice Bureau for contacts.
And Arthritis Care is a specialist charity which has a wealth of information should you have further questions, they can be found at www.arthritiscare.org.uk