Living With Arthritis

Living With Arthritis

Living With Arthritis
When living with arthritis, daily activities like opening doors, climbing stairs and even getting out of bed can be difficult and painful due to joint inflammation. Exercise reduces pain and disability, partly because it stimulates the production of synovial fluid that lubricates the joints. Regular daily exercise also helps maintain a healthy weight and improve overall muscle tone and balance, both which lessen strain on the joints.

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    A Rheumatology, answered on behalf of
    If you have arthritis, you can and should exercise because it may help reduce stiffness and increase your flexibility. Exercise builds strength and endurance, improves balance, decreases body fat and improves movement in joints and muscles. Exercise also improves feelings of well-being and reduces stress, which in turn helps reduce the emotional burden of pain caused by arthritis or other conditions. Stretching exercises can increase the amount of movement in joints and muscles. Ask your doctor what type and amount of exercise is best for you. 
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    A , Neurology, answered
    Wear rubber gloves to make it easier for weak hands to grasp objects. They also help protect your hands from chemicals when cleaning and from the cold when handling frozen or refrigerated foods. To make the gloves easier to put on and take off, sprinkle a little cornstarch inside each one. If they’re still difficult to remove, try holding your hands under cold water and then pulling them off. If one of the gloves gets a hole in it (usually the one for your dominant hand), keep the mate. The next time another dominant-hand glove wears out, turn the mate you saved inside out and you’ll have a “new” pair of gloves. If gloves are too difficult to use, try slipping your hands into plastic bags; if necessary, secure around your wrist with a large rubber
    band.

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    A , Neurology, answered
    Here are some handy tips to make it easier to find phone numbers if you have difficulty using your hands:
    • Keep important and frequently used phone numbers handy. Avoid having to use a heavy phone book by keeping frequently used phone numbers handy on a printed list near each telephone. Using large print to make the names easier to read, list the phone numbers for individuals you call frequently on one page and the numbers of frequently called businesses, doctors and others (as well as the poison control center and emergency numbers) on another. Make copies of both lists, place them back-to-back and slip them into clear acetate sheets. Put one list near each phone in your house. If you have a cell phone, enter frequently used numbers into the cell phone directory and use it to look up and dial numbers.
    • Cut large, heavy telephone directories in half. If handling a heavy telephone directory is hard on your hands, try dividing large telephone directories into two sections -- the yellow pages and the white pages. Use clear tape to add a cardboard cover to the cut ends.
    • Contact your telephone company to see if you qualify for free of charge, directory-assistance services. Your doctor will need to document exactly how your disability prevents you from using a telephone book to obtain addresses and phone numbers.
    • Ask the reference librarian at your local library to find phone numbers, if you are having a difficult day and do not qualify for directory assistance.
    • Use the Internet yellow and white pages to look up addresses and phone numbers anytime day or night.

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    A , Neurology, answered
    If dialing a standard telephone is a pain:
    • Purchase a large-keypad telephone and use the palm of your hand to press the buttons. You can purchase these phones from electronics, office or discount stores. You may want to contact your telephone company’s special-needs department regarding telephones with disability-friendly features and accessibility services they may offer.
    • Look for a phone with an automatic dial feature. These phones dial your most frequently called numbers with the touch of just one button; some are even voice operated.
    • Use a speaker phone to make using the telephone easier. Speaker phones allow you to talk from up to 15 feet away without having to hold the receiver. Speaker phones are available wherever traditional phones are sold.
    • Use your telephone as an intercom system. Ask your telephone company if “revertive calling” is available in your area. If so, signal and speak to family members in other rooms by simply dialing your telephone number, waiting for a busy signal and hanging up the receiver; all the phones in your house will ring and individuals can pick up the handsets and speak to each other without hearing a dial tone in the background.

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    Exercise for people with arthritis is the same as for everyone else. It is recommended that you exercise for 30 to 60 minutes at moderate intensity 5 days per week.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Avoid sugar and foods with added sugar and refined carbohydrates if you have arthritis. Reduce inflammation by cutting out white flour products, white rice and white potatoes. Several studies have shown that consuming foods of this type aggravates inflammation. Instead eat high fiber foods like whole grains and legumes. Studies have shown that high fiber diets are anti-inflammatory.
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    A , Neurology, answered
    Just as physical activity keeps your body strong, mental activity keeps your mind sharp and agile and keeps you from concentrating on your pain and discomfort. Challenge yourself with word games and puzzles, read, stay informed about the world around you and try new things.

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    Here are some tips to make shopping easier if you have arthritis.
    • Shop online or by mail to save time and energy. In a notebook or the memo area of your personal checkbook keep a record of all mail-order or online company information. You’ll have a complete record of the purchase should you need to contact the company for any reason.
    • Shop early. In your wallet or purse, keep a list of people you need to buy gifts for, including sizes and favorite brands or colors. When you are out and you encounter a sale, consult your gift list and purchase items throughout the year, avoiding last-minute gift shopping or hectic holiday times.
    • Wrap holiday gifts as soon as you purchase them, so that you won’t have to fuss with them as the days become more hectic. Wrapping a few at a time is easier on the hands than doing the whole bunch at once. If you must wrap many gifts at one time, use an adjustable ironing board as a table; you can raise or lower the board easily and sit or stand to suit your needs. Wrap packages in different colors for different recipients and you will know at a glance which gifts are for whom.

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    Shop when the store is least busy. Not only is it easier to shop when you do not have to cope with aisles full of shoppers, but often you can get special services not available during busier times of the day. For example, the person at the deli counter might dice your onions and place them in a plastic bag, or the cashier might break the seals of hard-to-open jars. According to a survey by a national grocery association, Tuesday is the least busy day of the week. However, call your favorite store to find out the days and times that are quietest.

    Inquire about special services to make your life easier. Some grocery stores offer special services to help shoppers select and pick up the items they need. Smaller neighborhood stores may provide home delivery -- simply call in your “order” and, for a fee, they will deliver groceries to your home. Larger chain stores may not deliver, but they sometimes maintain a list of companies that offer pick-up and delivery service from their store. If stores near you do not deliver, you may be able to call ahead and request that the store assemble a few items that you need and have them ready for you to pick up at a specified time. If you would like assistance in getting to and from your car, ask about having a store employee meet you at your car. Call stores in your area to ask about the services you would find most helpful, then patronize those that provide these services.

    Consider grocery shopping online. Online grocers offer delivery to your door of basics, organics and hard-to-find items.

    Many stores offer motorized shopping scooters or wheelchairs as a convenience for their customers. Do not be embarrassed to use them if it makes your shopping trip easier. You can collect items in the basket that’s attached to the front of the scooter.

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    A , Neurology, answered
    Keep your sense of humor! Having trouble moving as fast as you used to, giving up a favorite activity like golf or using a handicapped parking placard when you shop are not particularly funny. However, putting a humorous spin on everyday observations and situations breaks the tension and puts your problems in perspective. For example, if you drop or spill something and make a mess, say, “I learned this from my children.” If you need to lean on someone to get from here to there, tease that some people will do anything for a little extra attention. If you are embarrassed by the orthopedic shoes you must wear, tell friends you’re trying to set a new fashion trend. (And, why not? Who would have thought that platform shoes and spiked heels with pointed toes would be a fad?) Laughter is a great stress reducer.

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