3.6 million Australians currently live with arthritis. Arthritis can result in joints being sore, weak and more unstable than ‘normal’ joints.
It’s no surprise then that some day to day tasks may become more challenging to perform. Activities that require good hand grip strength or involve twisting and repetitive movements can aggravate joint pain, as the joints can become more vulnerable with arthritis.
Break tasks like cleaning into smaller sessions and laundry into smaller loads and spread them across the week, rather than doing it all in one long session. Try using a trolley to help move heavier loads, or slide objects a long a bench instead of lifting.
Alternating activities between standing and sitting, and alternating between periods of activity and rest can help to manage pain and energy. Generally, changing position every 20 to 30 minutes helps to reduce muscle fatigue and joint stiffness. Sitting to do some aspects of meal preparation instead of always standing at the bench, can help take the load of arthritic knees and hips.
Pain can serve as a warning, and pushing through pain can sometimes increase stress, fatigue, and joint damage. On the other hand, fear of pain and stopping an activity if it hurts, can stop you from engaging in an active life. Finding the balance is important. It is usually better to keep performing activities a little at a time with well-placed rest breaks, rather than giving up on something you enjoy. Of course, seek advice from your treatment professionals if you’re unsure of what level of activity is safe to do.
Using your strongest and largest joints and muscles to ‘spread the load’ can help to reduce joint stress and pain. For example, use your thigh muscles instead of your back to squat and lift an object. Also maintaining good posture and body alignment rather than getting into awkward and unsteady positions can help to avoid aggravation of pain and injury.
There are so many helpful items available now to make tasks more manageable if you suffer from Arthritis. Car handy bars can make it easier to get in and out of a car. Pick up researchers can help to grab items from the floor if you have difficulty crouching down. Dressing sticks, long handled hairbrushes, long handled sponges and button hooks can make dressing and personal care easier. Tipping kettles, modified cutlery and tap turners can make tasks in the kitchen easier and safer.
Go to your local mobility and daily living equipment supplier or online to have a look.
If you would like more information on how Gateway Life allied health services can assist you, please call 1300 306 939.