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Live a good life with arthritis

A woman with arthritic hands is gripping one hand with the other.

Arthritis may change the way you do some things. But there are steps you can take to make living with arthritis easier.

Living with arthritis isn't always easy. But there are things you can do to help minimize the impact the disease may have on your daily life.

Arthritis adjustments

Arthritis can cause stiffness and swelling throughout your body, making even routine tasks like cooking difficult sometimes. But in most cases, there are adjustments you can make to help you complete these tasks despite arthritis pain.

It may take some trial and error to find the workarounds that help you most, but it's worth the effort. Taking some simple steps can help improve your quality of life and preserve your independence.

Try these tips from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the Arthritis Foundation:

  • Wrap foam, cloth or tape around the handles of objects such as knives and cooking pots to cushion the grip.
  • Look for household and gardening tools with larger, specially designed handles.
  • Use pens or pencils with soft grip covers; they're easier to hold.
  • Use carts or carriers with wheels to move heavy objects such as suitcases, garbage cans and grocery bags.
  • Use a jar opener to avoid twisting with your fingers and hands. Avoid buying products that are difficult to open or close.
  • Replace round doorknobs and faucet handles with lever-style handles.
  • Purchase lightweight products—especially when it comes to cleaning and kitchen tools.
  • Keep it simple. Buy products that are easy to use rather than fancy products with intricate pieces.
  • Select products with texture. For example, drinking glasses with bumpy exteriors are easier to hold than glasses with smooth exteriors.

Easy does it

And remember, whatever the task, don't overdo it. Pace yourself and take breaks when necessary.

If you need assistance completing a task, ask someone to help you.

Activity helps

The workarounds you use to complete your daily activities also have a side benefit—they help keep you active. And staying active when you have arthritis is important. Moving joints in your fingers, neck, back, hips or knees can help you get relief from pain, stiffness and swelling caused by arthritis.

To keep moving, you may need to find new ways of doing things to put less pressure on your joints. Sometimes adaptive equipment (devices that make daily tasks easier) can be helpful in that regard.

A regular exercise program can also be beneficial for managing arthritis pain so you can do more of your daily activities, sleep better and feel more energetic.

Walking, swimming and riding a stationary bike are usually not too hard on arthritic joints, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Team up to tackle arthritis

Other ways to manage arthritis pain, feel better and keep moving include taking medications and maintaining a healthy weight.

For more ideas on how to overcome arthritis challenges, talk to your doctor.

An occupational or physical therapist might also be able to help you find practical solutions to obstacles in your everyday life.

Reviewed 7/17/2023

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