Living with Arthritis is not as an easy task and even carrying out some simple tasks and movements can not only be challenging but can also be painful too which can be very frustrating to go through day in and day out.
In the UK, around 10 million people suffer from a form of Arthritis and it affects people of all ages. However, there are many things we can all do and a range of services out there that can help make day to day life with Arthritis manageable.
Work It Out
Having a long-term illness like Arthritis can warrant worry and anxiety when it comes to financial security. Work is certainly feasible for people suffering from Arthritis even though the condition can make working life harder.
However, thanks to improved treatment, people who have been diagnosed with a form of arthritis have the opportunity to either return to work or find work. This is important as it can provide a sense of purpose, identity and help gain support from a social network from within your work place.
It is important to explore the options and support available to you so that you can do your job to the best of your ability and manage your Arthritis at the same time. There are Government Work Schemes such as Work Choice and Access to Work specifically designed to help those suffering from a life-altering health condition.
If you decide that full-time work is too much and your Arthritis is too challenging to manage at work all day, then there are alternatives that can still give you peace of mind for financial security:
- Flexible Work – There are some employers that will allow individual staff to be flexible with their time of starting and finishing work and may even accept working from home.
- Part-Time Work – This would allow you to cut down to only working a few days a week, giving you a longer break to rest and manage your arthritis without having to work every day.
- Job-Sharing – This is where two employees share the responsibilities which will take some of the work-load off while still working.
- Self-Employment – Working for yourself allows for much greater flexibility in how long you work, when you work and where you work.
Working with Arthritis can be difficult and can be so severe that you are no longer able to do so but don’t be put down by this as there is help available with Personal Independence Payment.
Eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important regardless if you are living with Arthritis. However, it is very important for you to eat healthy if you have Arthritis as it will give your body nutrients and help manage your condition and stop it from deteriorating.
A healthy diet will help you get to and maintain a healthy weight which will reduce symptoms of Arthritis, particularly Osteoarthritis, as reducing even a small amount of weight can reduce the strain on your joints. If you are underweight, a healthy diet will help your body get stronger and add the strength needed to get through a flare-up.
There are great foods that you can eat that will benefit you, and we have picked our top 10 foods to eat with Arthritis:
Certain types of fish are jam-packed with Omega-3 which helps fight inflammation. Research shows that eating just 150 grams of fish a week can give you a great source of the vital fatty acids. Fish that is rich in Omega-3 include Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel and Herring.
Keep it Extra Virgin
Extra virgin olive oil is full to the brim with healthy fats, such as oleocanthal, containing properties similar to those of anti-inflammatory medication. Great to put on salads and to cook with adding fantastic flavour and healthy benefits.
Milk, yogurt, cheese and other low-fat dairy products are rich in calcium and vitamin D that are important to increase bone strength. The 2 minerals come hand in hand, Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and it can also boost your immune system.
The Green of Broccoli
Broccoli is rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin K which can prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Broccoli is also rich in calcium to add to strengthening your bones.
Put the Kettle on
Tea, not your traditional cup of English brew but for green tea. Full of polyphenols, antioxidants believed to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction. Green tea is also shown to have an antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate which blocks the production of molecules that cause joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Take your tea green.
Whole grains lower the level of C-reactive proteins that are a marker of inflammation that is associated with not only arthritis but also Diabetes and heart disease. Excellent sources of whole grains are oatmeal, brown pasta, brown rice and whole grain bread.
Don’t through away the Beans
Beans are an excellent source of protein which is important for cellular growth and repair. Some beans, like kidney beans and pinto beans, are also rich in folic acid, magnesium, zinc, magnesium and potassium which are fantastic for the health of your immune system.
Studies show that the compound Diallyl Disulphine, which is found in garlic, may limit cartilage-damaging enzymes in human cells.
Get your Nuts
Nuts are healthy for the heart and beneficial for weight loss. They have immune boosting ALA (alpha linolenic acid), protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E. Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds are among some types of nuts that can give you all these nutrients and they are great snacks to fill the gap between meals.
Living with Arthritis – Exercise Routines
Exercise boosts energy, strengthens and maintains muscles, supports joint movement and keeps us flexible. For Arthritis, exercise helps to limit pain and maintain mobility. The NHS recommends that adults should undertake a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days a week.
You can do this in blocks of five to 10 minutes if it is too much for you to do in one go. It is important to structure a routine in your daily life to include exercise as lack of time is a common excuse for excluding exercise from day to day life.
Arthritis is one of the most common reasons people stop participating in exercise which leads to a variety of health risks including Diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For people living with Arthritis, who are inactive, can suffer further from weaker muscles, stiff joints, poor balance, decreased pain tolerance and poor flexibility.
Benefits of exercise can be more than just physical but can also affect you emotionally and mentally; here just some of the benefits being active can give you:
- Better range of movement and joint mobility.
- Better pain management.
- Increased muscle strength.
- Stronger bones – which can help protect against Osteoporosis.
- Weight control.
- Improved balance and co-ordination.
- Reduced stress.
- Improved sleep patterns.
- Increased energy levels.
- Better breathing.
- Improved self-esteem.
Here at Lifeline24 we recommend Yoga as a great beneficial exercise for those who are living with Arthritis. Yoga, if done regularly, can reduce joint pain, improve joint functionality and flexibility and promote better sleep by lowering stress.
Yoga uses deep relaxation techniques to promote a healthy immune system and helps reduce joint inflammation. Gentle stretching and movement that is involved with yoga helps you maintain mobility and movement. Yoga can target the sources of pain and through relaxation and meditation you can learn to relax those points easing your pain and develop a communication with your own body.
Yoga is gentle enough to do everyday and develop your own routine learning from instructors, books and the internet.
Managing Pain with Arthritis
For many people who are living with Arthritis, managing pain is part of daily life. Constant pain can be difficult to manage and sometimes in the log run it can lead to feelings of frustration and depression.
Arthritis is a fluctuating condition – meaning that pain can vary from day to day. This fluctuating pattern can lead to a cycle between pain, depression and stress. Learning to manage pain will help break this cycle.
One way of helping you manage pain is finding better ways to use your joints. It is possible to reduce the stress on your joints, caused by Arthritis, by being aware of your body positions and trying to avoid staying in one position for too long.
There is equipment like easy-turn taps, hand rails or raised seats that can help reduce stress on your joints making it easier to move positions and reduce you needing to exert yourself. Using your strongest and largest joints, along with muscle groups, on daily tasks can benefit your joints by spreading the load so that you are not exerting one joint.
Trying to do too much without resting can cause unnecessary muscle stiffness, so get into a habit of taking regular breaks and set yourself a good balance. A big part of managing your pain with Arthritis is simplifying your work; don’t try and do too much, plan ahead and schedule breaks. Taking the work at a manageable pace which will in turn allow you to accomplish your tasks efficiently.
One of the most important things to remember is that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Take responsibility for yourself and always ask for help when you need it and avoid causing added aggravation on your body. There is always help and someone to talk to: Your GP, practice nurse and pharmacist. You can also find support through self-management programmes, counselling and pain clinics.
Managing your pain can be difficult and you may not realise that there are other ways to alleviate pain, which can be seen as unconventional but are proven to help. Such therapies include acupuncture, reflexology, massage and homeopathy to name a few. Be sure to ask your GP for advice if you are not sure about trying an unconventional method and always check the practitioner’s details to find a good treatment.
Lifeline24’s Helpful Tips
- Pushing buttons, be it on a microwave or even a TV remote, can be difficult with Arthritis. Using a rubber stopper on the end of a pencil or on a pen with a foam grip can make easy work of getting the right channel on for Eastenders or the football match.
- Shoe laces can be a pain even without having the added complication of Arthritis. Try slip on shoes to make life easier. Elastic laces can help you slip your shoes on and off easily if you can’t find a stylish slip on to your taste. Never underestimate the benefit of a shoehorn, a great tool to have to help with getting those shoes on and off of your feet.
- Squatting isn’t just for the gym. Take the load and pressure off your lower back when bending down by lowering yourself with your legs. A squat is also a great way to build strength in your legs and hips to help stabilise those joints. A squat is simple to do and you can do them in your home – hold onto a sturdy counter-top and lower yourself into a sitting position, keep your knees aligned with your ankles through the exercise, then push up with your bottom muscles using your arms for support and pull if needed.
- A good hot bath or hot shower can ease the pain of a long day and help ease those muscles and joints. Make the experience a bit better by using a shower mit or loofah to take stress off of your fingers when washing yourself.
- Exercise is important to keep your body strong and flexible. It can help keep you upbeat with energy and positivity so take part in physical activity at least three times a week – yoga and aqua aerobics are great activities to take part in which cause limited stress on joints.
Living With Arthritis – A Final Thought
Here at Lifeline24 we are in contact with many different people suffering from many life-altering illnesses and we find that the most important element to have and remember is to continue being positive.
Having a long-term condition like Arthritis affects life on a day-to-day basis, which can lead to depression and frustration which can only make things worse. Many people with Arthritis find that a positive attitude can significantly boost their ability to cope with pain and live with the condition.
Find ways to keep your mind off the pain and other challenges of living with Arthritis by using the tips we have suggested and do things you enjoy – don’t let Arthritis control you, adapt to your capabilities with the condition and live every day with a smile as that is the best medicine!