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 , Neurology, answered
    Use a revolving tie rack to organize necklaces. They hang tangle free, are easy to select and retrieve and can be dusted with a feather duster.

    Organize small earrings in stacking ice cube trays. For easier access, you can attach clip-on earrings to a cake cooling rack that is hung on a wall.

    Have a jeweler adapt your necklaces and bracelets with toggle clasps. If fastening tiny hooks and clasps on your jewelry is difficult, add a toggle clasp that has a large circle on one end of the chain and a thin bar on the other end. To fasten, you simply slide the bar end through the circle.

    Magnetic clasp converters are an inexpensive alternative to hard-to-fasten jewelry clasps. No restringing is necessary; simply attach your jewelry’s clasp and jump ring to the magnetic clasp and you’re done -- putting on your jewelry is a snap. Available in gold-tone or silver-plated at most hobby and jewelry stores.

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    A , Neurology, answered
    Using the computer can be hard on the joints in your fingers, hands, arms, neck and back. If you use one regularly, it is important to investigate the ergonomically designed products that will make working at your computer most comfortable for you. Visit a full-service computer store to learn about and test drive ergonomic keyboards, mice, pens and other devices.
    • Find the right keyboard. A number of keyboards on the market are designed to eliminate the back, shoulder, neck, hand and wrist pain of using a computer. Try an ergonomic or soft-touch keyboard at your favorite computer store or ask if you can try one at home for a few days before you purchase it.
    • Eliminate wrist strain with an ergonomically designed mouse. Numerous devices are designed to eliminate the hand pain that can come with computer work. In addition to an ergonomically designed mouse, available in right- and left-hand styles, vertical mice, track balls, pens and other designs are also available. Ask to try different styles at your local computer or office supply store before you buy. Look for devices with a raised, soft, cushioned gel pad to support the wrist.


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    A , Neurology, answered
    Here are some tips to make gardening easier if you have arthritis:
    • Protect your hands while gardening by purchasing gardening gloves that are one or two sizes too large. Then stuff foam or sponge-type padding in and around your fingers. When handling thorny plants, you might try using a quilted oven mitt.
    • Plant seeds without bending. One way to avoid bending while planting is to use a PVC pipe to guide seeds into the soil. Start with a three-and-a-half-foot section of one- or two-inch diameter pipe. Cut one end on the diagonal. Keeping the diagonally cut end of the pipe touching the ground, drop seeds down the pipe where you want the plants to grow. Cover the seeds using the end of the pipe or by dropping soil down the pipe. Another option is to fill a salt shaker or spice bottle that has a shaker top with seeds. After preparing the soil, simply shake the bottle over the areas you want to plant.
    • Sit on a stool or chair to work in the garden or flower bed and use well-made child-size rakes or shovels to work the soil. Some stools have wheels and storage compartments.
    • Mark your trowel for easy planting. When planting bulbs or other plants that need to be planted at a specific depth, purchase a trowel with pre-marked measurements or mark inches on your own tool with red nail polish. The markings will make it easier to dig to the proper depth.
    • Pull weeds when the ground is moist. Do your work after a rain, in the morning when the ground is still wet with dew or after lightly moistening the ground with a garden hose. If you need a little extra help dislodging the roots, try an apple corer. Or, you might consider purchasing a long-handled weeding tool from a nursery or garden shop, so that you can weed without bending.

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    A , Neurology, answered
    Change outdoor lights all at the same time. Rather than getting out that heavy ladder and changing outdoor lightbulbs when they burn out (usually at the most inopportune time or during inclement weather) change all your outdoor lights at one time and then annually thereafter. A good way to remember when to change the bulbs is to associate it with an annual date, like your birthday, anniversary, a holiday or when you change the clocks ahead in the fall.

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    A , Neurology, answered
    Here are some tips to make railings and stairs easier to manage if you have arthritis.
    • Lead with your strong leg going up stairs, and with your weak leg going down. Remember, “Good leg to heaven, bad leg to hell.”
    • Signal others with flashing lights. Save steps and attract the attention of someone who is in the basement by turning the light switch at the top of the stairs on and off a few times. The flashing lights will get the person’s attention even if she has noisy equipment running or the volume on the TV cranked up.
    • Install hand railings on both sides of a stairway, so that you have support going up and down stairs. Basement stairs will be safer if you add abrasive rubber treads to each step. For added safety, paint the edge of the steps with luminous paint to make them more visible; alternate colors to avoid the chance of missing a step. To improve the lighting in the stairwell, use at least a 100-watt bulb.

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    A , Neurology, answered
    If you have limited reaching ability; pain in your hips, knees, back; or if the act of stretching footwear to go over your foot is painful, try putting your socks or stockings on with an easy-to-use sock or stocking aid. This device works a little like a shoe horn: slip your sock over the flexible, terrycloth-covered base, and it spreads the sock open, making a generous opening for your foot to enter. Slip your foot into the opening, grasp the two attached straps and gently pull the sock or stocking over your foot.

    You can also sprinkle cornstarch into your nylon stockings or onto the bottom of your feet and heels to make it easier to pull stockings on.

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    Plan things to look forward to. Set small short-term goals for yourself. Invite friends over to play cards or watch a football game. Plan to see a new movie in town or attend a family reunion or an upcoming birthday party. Then, even if a bad day sneaks in, you’ll have something to look forward to.

    Anticipate problems and their solutions. Whenever you plan an activity, discuss potential problems and make contingency plans to provide alternatives if problems arise. Rehearse what you would do if ... the car broke down on the highway, you missed your plane connection or you couldn’t find an accessible bathroom. Taking risks can be stressful, but careful planning and preparation will reduce stress and make activities more enjoyable.

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    A , Neurology, answered
    Whether you’ve had arthritis for years or you’ve just been diagnosed, here are ideas for being proactive about conserving energy.
    • Sit down while you work. If you have pain in your legs, knees or feet, take the strain of gravity off by sitting down to work. Even tall counters, such as those in the kitchen and work room, can be made easier to work at using tall stools -- some even come with rollers to make getting around easier.
    • Combine errands as much as possible. If you are making the effort to get dressed and get in the car, don’t just go out for one thing -- conserve gas and energy by making a list and running all your errands at one time. Be efficient -- list your errands in the order you wish to run them, making a circle from home to the farthest point and home again or, if you might run out of time or energy, prioritize by importance and do the most important things first.
    • Spread out high-energy tasks. Instead of trying to do the laundry, get groceries and clean the house all in one day, spread these activities out throughout the week. Give yourself time to rest, perhaps even a rest day, in between high-intensity activities.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    All chronic conditions can be treated in some way that lessens the damage and aging that the condition would have caused if not treated. For arthritis, treatment means getting pain relief so you can continue to exercise and strengthen the muscles around the joint. It also means taking the right amount of vitamin C, calcium, and vitamin D, so that bone reconstruction is more normal. (In these ways, osteoarthritis can be less of a hazard.)

    And here is a herbal remedy that should become mainstream. The push that one doctor started for glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate has been shown in four randomized studies. Since 95 percent of us will have osteoarthritis by the time calendar age 80 occurs, we have almost made this a RealAge (physiological age) benefit for all people. But the data are only for those with the diagnosis of osteoarthritis. This combination of "herbs" not only decreases pain substantially in over 50 percent of osteoarthritis patients by 3 months, but it slows, and even reverses some of the clinical and radiologic symptoms and evidence of joint disease.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Drink tea, black or green, if you have arthritis. The notion that green tea is healthier than black tea has not been borne out by clinical trials in humans. Green tea may have anti-cancer effects, but black tea has a better track record in fighting inflammation. You need at least 3 cups a day, unless you're a smoker, in which case no amount of tea will work for you.