In the UK, around 10 million people suffer from a form of Arthritis. While there is currently no cure for arthritis, there are lots of ways to manage your condition and make your everyday life as easy and comfortable as possible.
This article contains some helpful tips for those living with arthritis. For more information on arthritis in general, please take a look at our useful guide. We’ve also published articles on the causes of arthritis and the treatments currently available.
Living With Arthritis at Work
Having a long-term medical condition like arthritis can definitely cause some worries around work and financial security. However, lots of people with arthritis are able to manage their symptoms and continue working with little disruption.
It’s important to communicate with your employer. By law, all employers must provide reasonable adjustments for workers with conditions like arthritis. This could include providing special equipment to help you do your job or changing your working hours. There are also government schemes such as Access to Work which are specifically designed to help those suffering from a life-altering health condition.
Versus Arthritis rightly points out that:
The 2010 Equality Act (Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland) makes it unlawful for employers to treat anyone with arthritis or a related condition less favourably than anyone who doesn’t have that condition
If full-time work is no longer an option for you, 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 start/home time and may 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.
Living with arthritis at work can be difficult. If your arthritis means you are no longer able to work, there is financial help available in the form of Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit.
Eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for everybody. However, if you have arthritis, eating a healthy diet is especially important.
A healthy diet will help you maintain a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight can place extra strain on your joints. For people with arthritis, this can worsen your symptoms, causing additional pain. On the other hand, if you are underweight, a healthy diet will strengthen your body and help you get through a flare-up.
Best Foods for Arthritis
Certain foods are particularly good for people with arthritis. Here are our top 10:
- Fish – 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 be a great source of vital fatty acids. Examples include salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – Extra-virgin olive oil contains healthy fats which have similar properties to anti-inflammatory medication. Use extra-virgin olive oil on salads and in cooking. It will add fantastic flavour as well as health benefits.
- Dairy – Milk, yoghurt, cheese, and other low-fat dairy products are rich in calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D work hand in hand to increase bone strength. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and it can also boost your immune system.
- Broccoli – Broccoli is rich in vitamins C and K which can slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Broccoli is also rich in calcium which strengthens the bones.
- Green Tea – Full of antioxidants which may reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction.
- Grains – Excellent sources of whole grains are oatmeal, brown pasta, brown rice and whole-grain bread.
- Beans – Beans are an excellent source of protein, which supports cellular growth and repair. Kidney beans and pinto beans are also rich in folic acid, magnesium, zinc, and potassium, which keep your immune system strong.
- Garlic – Studies show that the compound Diallyl Disulphine, which is found in garlic, may limit cartilage-damaging enzymes in human cells.
- Nuts – Nuts are great for the heart and beneficial for weight loss. Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds are just a few examples that can fill the gap between meals.
- Turmeric – Research indicates that turmeric can fight inflammation. Turmeric contains a compound called Curcumin which is beneficial in the management of arthritis.
Exercise boosts energy, strengthens muscles, and maintains mobility. With arthritis, exercise can also help to limit pain. The NHS recommends that adults should exercise for at least 150 minutes each week.
We don’t recommend trying to do this all in one go, especially if you are living with arthritis. Break it up into small blocks of 5-10 minutes to begin with. Make time for exercise in your daily routine and be as consistent as you can.
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. However, as long as you do the right type and level of exercise for your condition, your arthritis won’t get any worse.
There are plenty of exercises that you can do to target specific areas in order to manage your pain. You don’t always need equipment to take part. If you’re unsure, you can visit your doctor or a physiotherapist, who will be able to give you specialist exercise advice.
Living with Arthritis at Home
Carrying out tasks at home can become difficult if you are living with arthritis. You might need to make some practical changes to your house. Here are some ways to make life as easy as possible in each room of the house:
- Use electronic equipment such as tin openers.
- Use electronic jug kettles for improved grip.
- Install door handles which are easy to grip and turn.
- Store items you use often within easy reach on the work surface or at the front of cupboards at a convenient height.
- Have shelves that slide or rotate out when you open the door.
- Use shaped or memory foam pillows and don’t prop them up too high.
- A lightweight mattress will make it easier to make the bed.
- Replace your mattress if it’s more than 10 years old, is saggy or lumpy, or if you can feel the springs.
- Use a non-slip bath mat.
- Use grab rails.
- Install a raised toilet seat.
Stay Safe at Home with a Lifeline Alarm
A Lifeline Alarm can be very helpful for people living with arthritis. It allows you to call for assistance quickly and easily if you are experiencing a flare-up or you suffer a fall.
For more information about our life-saving personal alarm service, please get in touch with our friendly team on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, fill in this quick contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
If you have arthritis, you qualify for VAT Exemption when you order a personal alarm system from Lifeline24. This means you will not need to pay VAT on your Lifeline alarm, giving you a considerable saving.
There are lots of conditions which make you eligible for VAT Exemption. Click here to find out more.
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Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 30 October 2020 to reflect current information. Originally published May 2018.