Arthritis is a potentially debilitating condition. It causes pain and stiffness in joints, often making ordinary daily activities difficult if not impossible. The causes of arthritis vary, with some cases attributed to injuries in youth and others simply a genetic inevitability. There are some medications, as well as vitamins and supplements, that are known to help—but not completely.
Whatever the origin of arthritis, it can cause immediate changes to the patient’s lifestyle. In addition to precise motor-skill driven work like writing or sewing, arthritis can dramatically undermine general mobility. This is one of the first problems that many arthritics must address. The changes in their joints create painful movement in ankles, knees, and hips. This reduces the effective range of motion and creates difficulties with balance, speed, and maneuverability.
It is an obvious challenge but not a simple one. Arthritis is irreversible; it will never go away, except in the case of joint replacements. Since joint replacement is not practical when arthritis may be affecting almost every joint in the body, the mission becomes developing a plan for working around the condition. This can be done in several ways.
The first thing most people think of is what they’ll need to buy or install in order to help with their arthritis. This is a very effective way to minimize the impact of the condition on their lives.
They may trade in a tall sports utility vehicle for an automobile that’s a little lower to the ground. Arthritics in multi-story homes can look at in-home residential elevators to keep the full house available to them rather than just one floor. Doors may need to be widened and ramps may have to be added to the home. Strategically-placed grab handles and lifting assistance devices could prove helpful as well, especially in confined areas like bathrooms.
Then there are legal considerations, such as getting a handicapped parking permit. Arthritics should get the necessary endorsement from the doctor to discuss the issuance of the permit with their local department of motor vehicles.
For those with arthritis in the workforce, there may be provisions that their employers can make. The worker may be able to request a relocated workstation that is closer to elevators or on the ground floor. They may be able to request a reduction in the physical requirements of their job, such as limits on lifting or climbing. Measures such as these are provided for under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and any discrimination against workers due to physical limitations is strictly prohibited. Employers understand this legislation thoroughly, and they are typically very accommodating to workers when a new diagnosis has been received.
Some of the adaptations needed by arthritics should be able to go with them wherever they go. The most common aids for improved mobility are canes and walkers. However, it’s important to note that these devices are not all created equal. The wrong device can not only provide less benefit than expected, it can even interfere with movement and precipitate a fall or other injury that exacerbates the situation.
A cane may be enough for inflamed knees. There is generally only a need for an improvement to stability in case there is an issue in one knee. In the case of the hips, a walker may be necessary. This is because both sides can be affected by a sudden problem. The additional structural stability of the walker can help reduce the chance of a fall.
Additionally, the type of cane or walker used is dependent largely on the extent and focal area of the arthritis symptoms. There are many different types of both devices, so it’s important to discuss the particulars of one’s arthritis with the doctor before choosing what to use. A device borrowed from a friend or one bought at a yard sale may not be ideal.
As we mentioned earlier, arthritis is irreversible. It is a long-term condition that develops after many years of slow wear and tear on cartilage and bones. However, there are ways to reduce the symptoms and delay the onset of the most severe pain and immobility.
A number of strategies for arthritis management can make the pain less severe and permit a higher level of independence without the expense of some of the interventions we’ve noted above. As an added bonus, most of them are beneficial to overall health as well, and they can be all-natural, requiring no prescription medication and eliminating the risk of dependency, side effects, and the high cost of medications.
The onset of arthritis does not mean the end of a rich, full life. Many people who are dealing with the condition are able to find techniques to work around the condition so that they can still maintain the activities and independence they enjoy. With the right combination of adaptations to the home, aids for the body, and therapeutic efforts to reduce pain, most arthritis patients can maintain normal routines.