Five ways to manage arthritis

Arthritis is a painful problem that can interfere with your ability to do the things you enjoy.But you can take steps to manage arthritis by protecting your joints, reducing discomfort, and improving mobility.

Harvard Medical School offers these five suggestions to help with arthritis:

• Keep moving. Avoid holding one position for too long. When working at a desk, for example, get up and stretch every 15 minutes. Do the same while sitting at home reading or watching television.

• Discover your strength. Put your strongest joints and muscles to work. To protect finger and wrist joints, push open heavy doors with the side of your arm or shoulder. To reduce hip or knee stress on stairs, let the strong leg lead going up and the weaker leg lead going down.

• Plan ahead. Simplify and organize your routines so you minimize movements that are difficult or painful. Keep items you need for cooking, cleaning, or hobbies near where they are needed (even if that means multiple sets of cleaning supplies, one for your kitchen and each bathroom, for example).

• Take advantage of labor-saving devices and adaptive aids. Simple gadgets and devices can make it easier to perform daily activities such as cooking, gardening, or even getting dressed. Long-handled grippers, for example, are designed to grasp and retrieve out-of-reach objects. Rubber grips can help you get a better handle on faucets, pens, toothbrushes, and silverware. Pharmacies, medical supply stores, and online vendors stock a variety of aids for people with arthritis.

• Ask for help. People with arthritis often worry about the possibility of growing dependent on others. But only a very small percentage of people with arthritis become severely disabled. Still, the emotional burdens of managing arthritis can be considerable. Educate family members and friends about how arthritis affects you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

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