According to the Arthritis Foundation, this painful condition is the leading cause of disability among adults in the US, preventing them from participating fully in their jobs and daily lives. If you’re one of these individuals, you know how the joint pain, stiffness, and swelling that accompany arthritis can stop you in your tracks.
But what if we told you that you don’t have to be counted in that statistic?
At CurePain, Dr. David Wu and our team believe that there is life after an arthritis diagnosis. Here, we take a closer look at arthritis and how you can make simple adjustments to lead a healthy, active life with arthritis.
Many don’t realize this, but arthritis is not a stand-alone disease. It’s a way of referring to joint pain or joint disease, and there are over 100 types of arthritis and arthritis-related conditions.
Arthritis isn’t just an old person’s problem, either. Anyone, regardless of demographic, can have arthritis. Over 50 million adults and 300,000 children live with some type of arthritis.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which occurs when the cartilage — a cushioning substance in your joints — wears down over time, leaving bone to rub against bone.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another common type of arthritis. It’s an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, which means that your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, causing painful joint damage.
Treatment for arthritis ranges from conservative methods such as anti-inflammatory medication to corticosteroid injections and radiofrequency ablation. Beyond getting treatment, the most important thing you can do for arthritis is to embrace certain lifestyle changes.
When you hear you have arthritis, you may feel as though you’ll never be able to enjoy a normal life again, but we believe the opposite is true. Here are some tips for adjusting to life with arthritis that — when combined with treatment — help you continue doing the things you love.
Proper body mechanics can make all the difference when you have arthritis and can help you avoid further damaging your joints.
Make sure that you set your feet slightly apart or place one foot just in front of the other when standing to keep you balanced. Always make time to take breaks or lean against a wall or chair if you have to stand for long periods.
When cleaning, try to use a pushing motion (like with sweeping and mopping) rather than a pulling motion. Also, be careful to bend with your knees and not your back.
A good rule of thumb is to simply listen to your body — it’ll tell you when it needs a break or when you’ve pushed yourself too far.
It’s important to become mindful of your daily tasks and manage them in ways that help you avoid exacerbating your joint pain. For example, you can break up your tasks and spread them throughout the week, use lightweight tools, and invest in cooking appliances that do more work for you.
If you have errands to run, make a plan ahead of time. Tackle your most important errands first, so that if your symptoms slow you down, your most important stops are done first.
Another way to get your errands done faster and more efficiently is to make a detailed list of the items you need to avoid having to go out again the next day. It’s also a good idea to plan to order heavier, bulkier items online so you don’t have to carry them.
There’s a variety of assistive devices that can help you stay comfortable while you get through the day. You may consider installing a sturdy shower chair, handrails, or removable showerheads.
You can also find easy-grip utensils and extendable grabbing tools, as well as attachments for your steering wheel to make reaching for and holding things much easier.
Talk to Dr. Wu about some other assistive devices that may be beneficial to you.
Doing things like managing stress, losing weight, getting more exercise, and eating a healthy diet are all great ways to adjust to life with arthritis and manage your symptoms. We also encourage you to limit your consumption of alcohol and quit smoking to help your body fight painful joint inflammation.
Want more straight-from-the-experts advice on how to manage your arthritis? You can request an appointment with Dr. Wu at our Torrance, California, office online or over the phone today.