Guest Post: Why Struggle? Simple tools to make life with arthritis and mobility challenges a little easier
BONUS: Stretches you can try from your chair
By Matt Werbach, Associate Director of Media & Communications, National Psoriasis Foundation
Do you ever get the feeling that too many things were designed without you in mind? Like, why is the top grocery shelf so high? Who the heck is sealing these mayo jars so tightly? And is everyone else at work as uncomfortable as I am when I sit all day?
May is Psoriatic Arthritis Action Month and Arthritis Awareness Month, so we wanted to share some thoughts on mobility tools and assistive devices that might make life a bit easier for you. We have tips for navigating the kitchen with less pain and easing the process of getting ready in the morning.
As a bonus during this special month, we also shared a couple stretches that most folks can do from the comfort of a living room or office space – and from a seated position.
Get the Facts
Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) impacts about 1 in 3 people with psoriasis. More than 8 million people in the U.S. live with psoriasis, which is a chronic, systemic, immune-mediated disease.
There is no reliable medical test for diagnosing PsA. That’s why people with psoriasis should use the PEST screening tool every six months. Keeping an eye on emerging symptoms might help you get a head start, which could save you from permanent joint damage.
Take the 5-Question PsA Screening Quiz
According to our colleagues at the Arthritis Foundation, as many as 1 in 4 adults lives with arthritis, with nearly 60 million people having an arthritis diagnosis.
Assistive Tools and Tips
Around the House
- Try a grabber tool for items that are out of reach (and bring it with you to the grocery store).
- Lessen joint pressure with safety grips in the shower, tub, and other slick areas.
- Tackle cleaning chores with an automatic vacuum cleaner. (consider this your permission to invest in that little sweeping robot you’ve had your eyes on)
- Look for stylish clothing that also has elastic waistbands, zippers big enough to handle, and clasps in the front instead of the back.
- Use a shoehorn and a sock puller.
- Place a chair near the closet to make getting dressed easier.
- Purchase high adjustable seats for your toilets to make sitting and standing easier.
- Give an electronic toothbrush a go to reduce the small, repetitive motion of brushing,
In the Kitchen
- Use an anti-fatigue (padded) mat in front of areas where you often stand, like the sink and stove.
- Keep a kitchen stool handy so you can sit while working at the counter.
- Take advantage of helpful equipment: food processors, countertop choppers, hands-free jar openers, ergonomic knives. (Maybe a trip to your favorite home good shop is in order?)
- Put your most frequently used utensils and tools out on the countertop within easy reach.
- Purchase kitchen tools with larger-grip handles.
- Replace heavy pots and pans with lightweight cookware.
- Buy your veggies pre-cut at the store.
At the Office
- Take frequent breaks to stretch and move.
- Place frequently used items or tools within easy reach.
- Try a hands-free headset or earbuds for phone calls.
- Use a voice-to-text program on your computer.
- Invest in an ergonomic chair. (Or better yet, get your company to provide one)
- Support your feet with a footrest.
- Use a firm, small pillow for lumbar support
- Keep your computer monitor at a height that helps you avoid crouching or leaning forward.
- Find writing utensils with large padded grips.
- Ask your supervisor if there is someone who can help you organize your office.
Bonus: Maintaining Mobility with PsA
Each type of arthritis is different. In the case of PsA, moving the body and joints can help maintain mobility. There are plenty of folks with PsA who run marathons or play 36 holes of golf on Saturday, but that is not possible or healthy for many people. Below are some gentle stretching movements that can be done from a seated position.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
While sitting on a chair, stretch one leg out in front of you. Loop a belt, towel, or strap around the middle of the foot that is stretched out. Sit up straight, leading with the chest; use the strap to pull the leg up rather than towards you.
Repeat 3 times on each side, holding for 30 seconds each time.
Move your shoulder blades back and down. You should feel your shoulder blades moving towards your spine. Relax between each repetition.
Repeat 20 times, hold for 5 seconds each time.
Want more stretches? Looking to learn more about psoriasis? The National Psoriasis Foundation has the information you need. Visit www.psoriasis.org/psa-action-month to learn more.
The National Psoriasis Foundation is a member of the National Health Council. For more information on NHC membership, please email [email protected].