When you have arthritis it is important to look after yourself to reduce further damage to your joints. This might mean learning new ways of carrying out everyday tasks to reduce the stress on your joints. To protect your joints you should:
- plan ahead – save harder tasks for later in the day when you might be feeling less stiff or sore
- pace yourself throughout the day
- notice which positions and movements make you stiff
- avoid straining joints by doing things awkwardly
- avoid being in one position for a long time
- keep active, but balance activity with rest
- try to stick to a healthy weight
Being over weight puts significant stress on your joints, as well as increasing other health risks such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The NHS offers support and plans to help with weight loss and can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/start-the-nhs-weight-loss-plan/
Practical changes at home and at work
To protect your joints you might want to think about how you carry out everyday tasks such as washing, dressing and going to work. There are some simple changes you can make to minimise the risk of damaging your joints.
- Use larger, stronger joints – push doors open with your shoulder rather than your hand and/or use your forearms/elbow joints to pick up items.
- Spread the weight of an object over many joints – use both hands to carry your shopping or use a shoulder bag.
- Avoid gripping things too tightly – hold items as loosely as possible or expand your grip with padding.
- Shift rather than lift items – slide heavy pans along a kitchen unit.
- Consider flexible working – starting earlier or later in the day to avoid the rush hour.
- Try not to sit in the same position all day – take regular breaks and move around.
An occupational therapist can assess you in your home or workplace and suggest simple adaptations to the way you do things to reduce the chances of damaging your joints. They can also suggest special equipment that you can buy to make some tasks easier. Patients who are under the Rheumatology team can be referred to a rheumatology specialist occupational therapist.
See the Versus Research website for more information on how to look after your joints: Click Here