Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with arthritis or have been experiencing joint pain for many years, coping with a chronic illness can feel overwhelming. There’s a lot of information to take in and countless treatments and therapies to explore. Of late, due to the pandemic, we’ve also had limited access to healthcare support, which has exasperated the situation even further.
The most important thing to remember is – you also have control. Making changes, even if they are small, can bring positive effects. Healthy lifestyle choices, adapting your habits and learning to manage the physical and emotional effects of your condition are all aspects of arthritis self-management.
There are many ways to manage arthritis symptoms. You just need to find what’s right for you. Sometimes this means experimenting, making adjustments, giving new things a go and then incorporating the ones that work into your daily routine.
Eating healthily, staying active through regular exercise and getting enough sleep are all intrinsic to arthritis self-management. Your mental health also needs to be prioritised. Find time to connect with friends and family, try to limit stress and build a solid support network. Sharing your experiences with fellow arthritis sufferers through local support groups – as well as online ones like our Facebook community Together For Better Days – may prove beneficial.
Among other things, you can try:
Scientific research suggests that diet impacts arthritis. Generally, the anti-inflammatory diet is favoured among chronic pain sufferers. Inflammatories like red meat, refined carbohydrates (white bread or pastries) and sugar are best avoided, while foods that help with arthritis joint pain include fresh fruit and vegetables, fatty fish and whole grains.
Here are some small steps you can take to improve your diet:
When you’re in pain, moving is the last thing you want to do, but it’s important to stay active. Undertaking regular low-impact exercise, such as yoga, water aerobics and cycling, is an effective form of arthritis management, and you can also incorporate gentle stretches into your daily routine that will strengthen your muscles and support your joints.
For more arthritis exercises and stretches, click here. You can even perform them from the comfort of your bed! It’s also worth checking out Let’s move with Leon, a free 12-week programme of 30-minute movement sessions, presented by fitness expert Leon Wormley, and The Active Londoners Programme, which helps people with musculoskeletal conditions and arthritis get active through a variety of tailor-made movement sessions, expert tips and advice.
From tools to make day-to-day tasks easier to fast-acting, natural pain relief remedies, the market is teeming with specially developed products for arthritis self-management. Here are just a few:
Ever heard of heat or cold therapy? Both treatments can be used to treat arthritis. Not only does heat relax muscles, but it also stimulates blood circulation and helps lubricate the joints. Cold compresses, on the other hand, reduce swelling by constricting blood vessels. The YUYU Bottle is a self-care accessory that warms and cools your body. Made from 100% natural, biodegradable rubber, it can be worn on the go and is medically endorsed for comfort and pain relief.
Described as a “hug for your hand”, these gloves from Grace and Able offer gentle compression to relieve swelling and support sore joints. They’re lightweight and breathable, featuring an open-finger design for ultimate convenience.
Containing a patented combination of vitamin D and dextrose, our active patches provide topical, targeted pain relief for joints, muscles and nerves. Available in two sizes – Big and Small – they can be applied to different areas of the body and show positive effects in as little as 30 minutes!
Designed to increase flexibility, improve strength, prevent stiffness, decrease stress and relieve joint pain in your fingers, hands, wrists and forearms, this therapy putty from McKesson can be stretched, squeezed, twisted or pinched using a variety of exercises.
Designed for anyone who finds pulling out stiff and fiddly plugs from sockets challenging, Plugull fits snug onto plugs, but the top part extends up into a finger loop. This piece of equipment is perfect for dexterity, limited grip and arthritis affecting the wrists, hands and fingers.
Management of arthritis pain takes time and dedication – it’s a journey. What self-help strategies do you have in place? We’d love to hear about your insights and experiences. Why not join our Facebook community group Together For Better Days – a safe, no-judgement space for people living with chronic pain, as well as those supporting them, to come together.