In addition to easing discomfort, you can learn to live well with arthritis by protecting your joints. What's more, with a little planning and reorganizing, you can learn to do daily tasks more efficiently, so that you'll have more energy to spend on activities you enjoy. Here are some home remedies from the Arthritis Foundation that can help.
Plan ahead each day. Prepare a realistic, written schedule of what you would like to accomplish each day. That way, you can carry out your most demanding and essential tasks and activities when you think you'll have the most energy and enthusiasm, in the morning, for instance, if that's when you usually feel best.
Spread the strain. As a general rule, you want to avoid activities that involve a tight grip or that put too much pressure on your fingers. Use the palms of both hands to lift and hold cups, plates, pots, and pans, rather than gripping them with your fingers or with only one hand. Place your hand flat against a sponge or rag instead of squeezing it with your fingers. Avoid holding a package or pocketbook by clasping the handle with your fingers. Instead, grasp your goods in the crook of your arm, the way a football player holds the ball as he's running across the field, and you won't be tackled by as much pain.
Avoid holding one position for a long time. Keeping joints "locked" in the same position for any length of time will only add to your stiffness and discomfort. Relax and stretch your joints as often as possible.
"Arm" yourself. Whenever possible, use your arm instead of your hand to carry out an activity. For example, push open a heavy door with the side of your arm rather than with your hand and outstretched arm.
Take a load off. Sitting down to complete a task whenever possible will keep your energy level up much longer than if you stand. But remember not to sit in the same position for too long.
Replace doorknobs and round faucet handles with long handles. They require a looser, less stressful grip (or no grip at all) to operate, so you'll put less strain on your joints.
Build up the handles on your tools. For a more comfortable grip, look for household tools, utensils, and writing implements that have chunky, padded handles. Or tape a layer or two of thin foam rubber, or a foam rubber hair curler, around the handles of brooms, mops, rakes, spatulas, knives, pens, and pencils.
Let automatic appliances do the work for you. Electric can openers and knives, for instance, are easier to operate than manual versions. An electric toothbrush has a wider handle than a regular toothbrush.
Keep your stuff within easy reach. Adjust the shelves and racks in any storage area so that you don't have to strain to reach the items you need. Buy clothes with pockets to hold things you use often and need close by, like a pair of glasses or pen and paper. Use an apron with pockets to carry cleaning supplies with you as you do your household chores.
Use a "helping hand" to extend your reach. For those items you can't store within arm's reach, buy a long-handled gripper, the kind used in grocery shops to grab items from top shelves. Make household chores easier with a long-handled or extendable feather duster or scrub brush. Grab your clothes from the dryer with an extended-reach tool to avoid bending and stooping over and over.
Go with Velcro. Interlocking cloth closures (better known as Velcro) on clothing and shoes can save you the frustration of buttoning or lacing with stiff, painful fingers.
Walk this way up and down the stairs. Lead with your stronger leg going up, and lead with your weaker leg coming down.
Bend with your knees. When reaching for or lifting something that's low or on the ground, bend your knees and keep your back straight as you lift.
Let loose with loops. You won't need quite as tight a grip if you put loops around door handles, such as those on the refrigerator and oven. Have loops sewn on your socks, too, and then use a long-handled hook to help you pull them up.
Dig out that little red wagon. Heavier loads will be out of your hands if you use a wagon or cart that glides along on wheels. Use it to tote groceries or baskets of laundry, for instance.
Sit on a stool in the tub. A specially made stool can give you a steady place to shower and can ease your way in and out of the tub.
Plant yourself on a stool in the garden. Sitting, rather than stooping, over your flowerbeds or vegetable garden may help reduce the stress on your back and legs.
Ask for help. Don't be afraid to ask your family members or friends for assistance when you need it. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. By sharing the load, you'll have more time and energy for the people and activities you enjoy.
In the next section, we'll examine natural home remedies, including everyday items found in your kitchen cupboard, that can provide relief from arthritis.
For more information about arthritis and how to cope with its symptoms, try the following links:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat go to our main Home Remedies page.
- Arthritis can be a potentially debilitating disease, significantly limiting the patient's ability to move. Herbs have been used to treat the pain and swelling of arthritis for centuries. Find out how in Herbal Remedies for Arthritis.
- To learn how to live a full and happy life despite your arthritis, read How to Adjust to Life With Arthritis.
- For tips on warding off joint discomfort, read How to Prevent Arthritis Pain.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.