Arthritis can be difficult to live with, so here are a few ways to ease your symptoms

11 February

Like any long-term health condition, arthritis can be painful and frustrating to live with. People living with arthritis will have good days and bad days, and there are inevitably going to be times when the stress of it feels too much. The good news is that treatment is continually improving and a growing awareness means that help and support is becoming readily available. There are also many simple things you can do for yourself to ease the symptoms and lift your spirits.

Rest and Exercise

When we feel stiff and uncomfortable, exercise feels like the wrong thing to impose on our bodies. Yet gently encouraging your joints to perform a wide range of motions will help to prevent the stiffness from building up. Keeping your weight down and building muscle strength will also provide extra support for your joints, protecting them from unnecessary strain.

When your affected joints are particularly inflamed and sore, you should take time to rest for short periods of time to allow them to settle down. Just be aware that the longer you stay immobile, the stiffer you will become.

Listen to your body and learn to differentiate between pain and discomfort, and don’t be afraid to ease yourself beyond your comfort zone. Fear will cause muscles to tense up, thus preventing the body to move to its full capacity. Low and non-impact exercise, such as yoga and swimming is ideal for people with arthritis. Seek out an instructor who has an understanding of your condition.

Talk to your doctor and asked to be referred to a physiotherapist. They will be able to assess your range of movement and give you exercises to do at home.

Complementary Therapies

Alternative and homeopathic medicine has served many people for thousands of years, for all kinds of ailments. While there is no guarantee of success, the majority of supplements and treatments are harmless and may be worth trying. Certain oils have been proven useful to reduce swelling and inflammation when rubbed onto affected joints, and can also be used in a warm bath. Heat in general is believed to be good for people with arthritis.

Some people say acupuncture is helpful, though this has yet to be granted scientific status. Massage is an effective treatment for many conditions and can reduce stress, increase circulation and improve wellbeing. There are plenty of different types to choose from too.

In all instances you should discuss things with your GP or specialist prior to taking anything, in case it interferes with prescribed medication.

Simple Aid

There are many clever gadgets available to make certain tasks easier, so make use of them. Things like long-handled gardening and cleaning tools, or bags with wide grip handles will prevent you from over-doing it.

Stress Relief

Living with any kind of ailment can be stressful, which in turn tends to aggravate the condition. Learning basic relaxation techniques will help you to deal with things a little better, whilst giving your body a chance to rest in a healthful way. Even just listening to music, lying on a mat on the floor with your eyes closed, or going for a walk can be incredibly medicinal – for mind, body and soul. If you struggle to do these things alone then ask someone to do them with you, or find a local meditation or yoga class.

Support

There are many support systems out there that connect people through shared experience. Even if your family and friends are dedicated to helping you, they may not always be able to understand exactly what you are going through. This can be emotionally difficult for everyone.

Use the internet to search for support groups near you, and read up on all the information that’s out there to really get a bigger picture. Understanding your arthritis will help you to manage it more affectively, giving you a sense of autonomy and empowerment.